What the pandemic has taught us about science

Reposted from Dr. Judith Curry’s Climate Etc.

Posted on October 10, 2020 by curryja | 

The scientific method remains the best way to solve many problems, but bias, overconfidence and politics can sometimes lead scientists astray

It’s been awhile since I have been so struck by an article that I felt moved to immediately do a blog post.  Well, maybe because today is Saturday and it is one day after the landfall of Hurricane Delta, I actually have a half hour to do this.

Matt Ridley has published an article in the WSJ What the pandemic has taught us about science, that is highly relevant for climate change as well as for Covid-19.  It is excellent, I agree with and endorse every word of this.

The paper is behind paywall; Dan Hughes kindly sent me a topic of the text.  Here are extensive excerpts

<begin quote>

The Covid-19 pandemic has stretched the bond between the public and the scientific profession as never before. Scientists have been revealed to be neither omniscient demigods whose opinions automatically outweigh all political disagreement, nor unscrupulous fraudsters pursuing a political agenda under a cloak of impartiality. Somewhere between the two lies the truth: Science is a flawed and all too human affair, but it can generate timeless truths, and reliable practical guidance, in a way that other approaches cannot.

In a lecture at Cornell University in 1964, the physicist Richard Feynman defined the scientific method. First, you guess, he said, to a ripple of laughter. Then you compute the consequences of your guess. Then you compare those consequences with the evidence from observations or experiments. “If [your guess] disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It does not make a difference how beautiful the guess is, how smart you are, who made the guess or what his name is…it’s wrong.”

So when people started falling ill last winter with a respiratory illness, some scientists guessed that a novel coronavirus was responsible. The evidence proved them right. Some guessed it had come from an animal sold in the Wuhan wildlife market. The evidence proved them wrong. Some guessed vaccines could be developed that would prevent infection. The jury is still out.

Seeing science as a game of guess-and-test clarifies what has been happening these past months. Science is not about pronouncing with certainty on the known facts of the world; it is about exploring the unknown by testing guesses, some of which prove wrong.

Bad practice can corrupt all stages of the process. Some scientists fall so in love with their guesses that they fail to test them against evidence. They just compute the consequences and stop there. Mathematical models are elaborate, formal guesses, and there has been a disturbing tendency in recent years to describe their output with words like data, result or outcome. They are nothing of the sort.

An epidemiological model developed last March at Imperial College London was treated by politicians as hard evidence that without lockdowns, the pandemic could kill 2.2 million Americans, 510,000 Britons and 96,000 Swedes. The Swedes tested the model against the real world and found it wanting: They decided to forgo a lockdown, and fewer than 6,000 have died there.

In general, science is much better at telling you about the past and the present than the future. As Philip Tetlock of the University of Pennsylvania and others have shown, forecasting economic, meteorological or epidemiological events more than a short time ahead continues to prove frustratingly hard, and experts are sometimes worse at it than amateurs, because they overemphasize their pet causal theories.

A second mistake is to gather flawed data. On May 22, the respected medical journals the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine published a study based on the medical records of 96,000 patients from 671 hospitals around the world that appeared to disprove the guess that the drug hydroxychloroquine could cure Covid-19. The study caused the World Health Organization to halt trials of the drug.

It then emerged, however, that the database came from Surgisphere, a small company with little track record, few employees and no independent scientific board. When challenged, Surgisphere failed to produce the raw data. The papers were retracted with abject apologies from the journals. Nor has hydroxychloroquine since been proven to work. Uncertainty about it persists.

A third problem is that data can be trustworthy but inadequate. Evidence-based medicine teaches doctors to fully trust only science based on the gold standard of randomized controlled trials. But there have been no randomized controlled trials on the wearing of masks to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases (though one is now under way in Denmark). In the West, unlike in Asia, there were months of disagreement this year about the value of masks, culminating in the somewhat desperate argument of mask foes that people might behave too complacently when wearing them. The scientific consensus is that the evidence is good enough and the inconvenience small enough that we need not wait for absolute certainty before advising people to wear masks.

This is an inverted form of the so-called precautionary principle, which holds that uncertainty about possible hazards is a strong reason to limit or ban new technologies. But the principle cuts both ways. If a course of action is known to be safe and cheap and might help to prevent or cure diseases—like wearing a face mask or taking vitamin D supplements, in the case of Covid-19—then uncertainty is no excuse for not trying it.

A fourth mistake is to gather data that are compatible with your guess but to ignore data that contest it. This is known as confirmation bias. You should test the proposition that all swans are white by looking for black ones, not by finding more white ones. Yet scientists “believe” in their guesses, so they often accumulate evidence compatible with them but discount as aberrations evidence that would falsify them—saying, for example, that black swans in Australia don’t count.

Advocates of competing theories are apt to see the same data in different ways. Last January, Chinese scientists published a genome sequence known as RaTG13 from the virus most closely related to the one that causes Covid-19, isolated from a horseshoe bat in 2013. But there are questions surrounding the data. When the sequence was published, the researchers made no reference to the previous name given to the sample or to the outbreak of illness in 2012 that led to the investigation of the mine where the bat lived. It emerged only in July that the sample had been sequenced in 2017-2018 instead of post-Covid, as originally claimed.

These anomalies have led some scientists, including Dr. Li-Meng Yan, who recently left the University of Hong Kong School of Public Health and is a strong critic of the Chinese government, to claim that the bat virus genome sequence was fabricated to distract attention from the truth that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was actually manufactured from other viruses in a laboratory. These scientists continue to seek evidence, such as a lack of expected bacterial DNA in the supposedly fecal sample, that casts doubt on the official story.

By contrast, Dr. Kristian Andersen of Scripps Research in California has looked at the same confused announcements and stated that he does not “believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible.” Having checked the raw data, he has “no concerns about the overall quality of [the genome of] RaTG13.”

As this example illustrates, one of the hardest questions a science commentator faces is when to take a heretic seriously. It’s tempting for established scientists to use arguments from authority to dismiss reasonable challenges, but not every maverick is a new Galileo.

Peer review is supposed to be the device that guides us away from unreliable heretics. Investigations show that peer review is often perfunctory rather than thorough; often exploited by chums to help each other; and frequently used by gatekeepers to exclude and extinguish legitimate minority scientific opinions in a field.

Herbert Ayres, an expert in operations research, summarized the problem well several decades ago: “As a referee of a paper that threatens to disrupt his life, [a professor] is in a conflict-of-interest position, pure and simple. Unless we’re convinced that he, we, and all our friends who referee have integrity in the upper fifth percentile of those who have so far qualified for sainthood, it is beyond naive to believe that censorship does not occur.” Rosalyn Yalow, winner of the Nobel Prize in medicine, was fond of displaying the letter she received in 1955 from the Journal of Clinical Investigation noting that the reviewers were “particularly emphatic in rejecting” her paper.

The health of science depends on tolerating, even encouraging, at least some disagreement. In practice, science is prevented from turning into religion not by asking scientists to challenge their own theories but by getting them to challenge each other, sometimes with gusto. Where science becomes political, as in climate change and Covid-19, this diversity of opinion is sometimes extinguished in the pursuit of a consensus to present to a politician or a press conference, and to deny the oxygen of publicity to cranks. This year has driven home as never before the message that there is no such thing as “the science”; there are different scientific views on how to suppress the virus.

Anthony Fauci, the chief scientific adviser in the U.S., was adamant in the spring that a lockdown was necessary and continues to defend the policy. His equivalent in Sweden, Anders Tegnell, by contrast, had insisted that his country would not impose a formal lockdown and would keep borders, schools, restaurants and fitness centers open while encouraging voluntary social distancing. At first, Dr. Tegnell’s experiment looked foolish as Sweden’s case load increased. Now, with cases low and the Swedish economy in much better health than other countries, he looks wise. Both are good scientists looking at similar evidence, but they came to different conclusions.

Prof. Ritchie argues that the way scientists are funded, published and promoted is corrupting: “Peer review is far from the guarantee of reliability it is cracked up to be, while the system of publication that’s supposed to be a crucial strength of science has become its Achilles heel.” He says that we have “ended up with a scientific system that doesn’t just overlook our human foibles but amplifies them.”

Organized science is indeed able to distill sufficient expertise out of debate in such a way as to solve practical problems. It does so imperfectly, and with wrong turns, but it still does so.

How should the public begin to make sense of the flurry of sometimes contradictory scientific views generated by the Covid-19 crisis? The only way to be absolutely sure that one scientific pronouncement is reliable and another is not is to examine the evidence yourself. Relying on the reputation of the scientist, or the reporter reporting it, is the way that many of us go, and is better than nothing, but it is not infallible. If in doubt, do your homework.

<end quote>

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October 11, 2020 6:21 am

MN has a mask requirement and every day we are bombarded in the news with new daily cases and Deaths. I asked my friend if masks work how are we still seeing new cases and deaths and his reply “it’s the people who don’t where masks.”

Reply to  Derg
October 11, 2020 6:52 am

Wear not where


Reply to  Derg
October 11, 2020 8:23 am

That error could be auto correct, often what I type is not what my tablet used. Yes Grrrr, it bad when technology that design to helps hinders. I have had a lifetime with trying to work with bad software.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Mark Luhman
October 11, 2020 8:57 am

Sometimes I can’t for the life of me figure out what autocorrect is trying to do.
Maybe my spelling was wrong but it comes back with gibberish sometimes.
Why replace bad spelling with gibberish, it must be broken?

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
October 11, 2020 1:44 pm

Often it’s because you accidentally wrote some gibberish once and it remembers that. Sometimes you can long-press on free suggestion and remove it from the list presented forever.

Reply to  Pat from kerbob
October 12, 2020 12:40 am

Why blame autocorrect? That’s just you being a silly count.

Reply to  Mark Luhman
October 11, 2020 1:45 pm

On the topic of autocorrect and since Matt Ridley mentions it in his WSJ article, did you notice that the very word “Hydroxychloroquine” sill doesn’t have predictive spelling?

It’s a “Fatwa”

Rich Davis
Reply to  Mark Luhman
October 11, 2020 2:35 pm

I always refer to it as auto-corrupt

Reply to  Mark Luhman
October 11, 2020 5:39 pm

I type brilliant comments, at a post-Ph.D level, and then after my confuser auto-corrects, it reads like a babbling school child who drank too much Scotch from his daddy’s home bar in the basement. I later read the comment and think “what idiot wrote that baloney, Floyd R. Turbo?”

Reply to  Derg
October 11, 2020 9:08 am

I will not buy a tablet, just because of that. But if it’s possible, you should be able to turn off what is known as auto-correct. If you write stories, as I do, the software will frequently not accept oddly spelled character names or place names and I have to add those to the ‘list of things unknown’ in the software’s dorky dictionary.

Reply to  Derg
October 11, 2020 7:34 am

Yea that simplistic reasoning is based in government and media manipulation. All you hear on any news is cases, cases, cases, cases, cases, cases. Remember the key to ALL brainwashing techniques is REPETITION. And just because you know that does NOT mean you are not susceptible to it but at least you watch for it. Anytime the gov and media are doing the hard sell (repeating something in various ways non-stop) be very suspicious.

CaseDemic – https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=483&v=FU3OibcindQ&feature=emb_logo

So how is the “total/excess” deaths doing? You know, that lone statistic that is the hardest to manipulate. Here is the USA (scroll down to graph)



Reply to  TRM
October 11, 2020 9:00 am

I’ve been making the argument at every opportunity but, in the UK at least, no-one is listening or more likely no-one wants to hear. Which is silly because it only encourages the conspiracy nutters who want to believe it’s all a plot to subjugate the masses.

We do not regularly test for the presence of viral infections with the result that we don’t have a clue how many people actually get influenza in any given winter and how many people have been infected with SARS-Cov-2 but have not required medical treatment. We then compound this situation by trying — in the UK at least — to carry out mass testing which is falling down because a) we have no experience of doing it and aren’t equipped, and b) we are using a test which has already been dismissed by experts in that field as virtually useless because its sensitivity is such that it identifies even fragments of viral debris from people who have had an infection and recovered.

Not exactly ‘false positives’, more ‘irrelevant positives’!

We then make things worse still by, as you say, calling every positive a “case” whether the testee requires treatment or not.

There is no doubt that there has been an ‘uptick’ in infections in the UK in the last few weeks and signs (the official Office of National Statistics figures are about 10 days behind) of a marginal increase in deaths, carefully manipulated to show a “doubling over a two week period” even though that figure is actually less than 2% of what the weekly figure was at its peak and fewer than one-fifth of the deaths from influenza in the same week.

Judith is right to draw parallels with climate research. The UK situation has from the beginning borne the hallmarks of rival scientists desperate that their model results — and it has been models all the way — should be the ones government listens to. The parallel is even more marked when it became common knowledge that one of the contributors couldn’t even write decent code!

Larry in Texas
Reply to  Newminster
October 11, 2020 10:35 am

Newminster – Language is a particularly important stumbling block, especially in the realm of the PCR test. If you define a “positive result” in terms of: is there ANY material from a virus genome present in the sample, then ANY virus genome material would clearly work there, even at 40 cycle thresholds, which has been the standard for the tests conducted. But such a test appears (according to my own doctor as well as experts such as Carl Haneghan of Oxford), from a clinical viewpoint, to be highly misleading and downright useless, because the material picked up at 40 cycle thresholds is nowhere near enough viral load to cause either disease symptoms or the ability to make the person tested appear contagious and capable of really spreading the disease.

Why that is, of course, is open to debate. I leave that to the good Prof. Haneghan and others to figure out over time. But from a public policy standpoint, the definitional problem is quite serious. As is the case of the definition of “cases.”

But this has become much more of a problem of groupthink than some of these experts are willing to admit. Which is why Lord Ridley’s piece is more pertinent than ever, for both the coronavirus AND climate change. For an eerily similar situation from the swine flu days, Google the article “Reconstruction of a Mass Hysteria: The Swine Flu Panic of 2009” from the March 2010 online edition of Der Spiegel International (English version). If that doesn’t make your hair curl, wow. But in my opinion, it indirectly provides a great explanation of why the current panic of the scientists and the cowardly and stupid politicians has taken place in this situation. Many of the scientific/public health establishment bureaucrats are looking for bad things, the worst possible things, to happen, and thus behave accordingly.

Reply to  Larry in Texas
October 11, 2020 11:41 am

Agreed. All the way.

Scientists have managed to convey the impression that they are desperate for a “second wave”, as opposed to hoping one doesn’t happen, in order to prove hos much we need their dubious input.

We have, of course, got our second wave. We’ve created it by testing and calling every positive result a “case”.

Reply to  Larry in Texas
October 11, 2020 1:55 pm

My wife is one of those who freak out over the announcement of new ‘cases’! And the new deaths are never reported as WHERE they happened or WHO it happened to! I highly suspect they were almost entirely from nursing homes. People die regularly in nursing homes. It’s just a fact of life. Many of them were placed there BECAUSE they were so sick and not really expected to leave healthy and go home. Also, in many cases, the actual nursing is so bad they don’t stand much chance of that happening. Now, bring Covid-19 into the picture. Sick, elderly people somehow ‘catch’ the virus and they die. Also, it hasn’t helped any that many deaths UNRELATED to the virus have died from other causes, but then they, too,l are listed as ‘covid deaths’. And yet, people wonder why no one believes what the CDC says anymore. What we REALLY need to learn is, just how many ‘cases’ result in bonafide ( as in ER visits) cases!

Bill Rocks
Reply to  TRM
October 11, 2020 9:16 am

Welcome post. Classic theme, remains very important during a strange era for our modern world.

TRM, Thank you for the link to the CDC excess deaths page. The central graphic should be carried by USA news vehicles, interpreted, discussed. Why not? Will be interesting to learn, in the not too distant future, if a seasonal increase in excess deaths occurs or if excess deaths occur coincident with a change in behavior such as fewer masks and social distancing. I can see why you conclude that “it is over”, a valid interpretation, perhaps not the only one but a credible posit.

WUWT is an amazing site, providing a fast lane to relevant quality information and opinion; intelligent, thinking people, some highly accomplished people. (I readily admit that less well-educated thinkers are important parts of the mix because their thinking can be unencumbered by prior experience, confirmation bias. Welcome to all honest contributors, I say.)

Highlights for me, just today: 1. the practical and strategic importance, geopolitics, economic conundrum and some geology of rare earth elements; 2. CDC excess death data showing seasonal flu and COVID-19 events.


Reply to  Bill Rocks
October 11, 2020 9:08 pm

You are welcome. I got the link off this site from someone else. This site is a treasure trove of interesting knowledge.

“Will be interesting to learn, in the not too distant future, if a seasonal increase in excess deaths occurs or if excess deaths occur coincident with a change in behavior”

Or will it go like the years after the 2017/18 flu season where it is below the average? The most vulnerable have been taken out so if past performance is any indicator we should be below for a few years.

I doubt masks make any difference at this stage of the infection cycle. It’s like putting on a condom after sex. Like almost all medical interventions masks may work early in the infection cycle but not later. “Masks Early vs Late Adoption”

It could explain some of the anomalies like Mexico having a higher compliance of mask wearing than Japan but way worse results.


Do check out “Figure 1” on page 18/19.

A recommendation (not an order) to wear masks by day 15 make a huge difference. Masks by day 16-30 have some effect. No masks or masks after day 60 (where we are) forget about it.

Reply to  TRM
October 11, 2020 11:22 am

Current numbers are certainly down from the peak earlier this year, but if the yellowish line is the long term trend, current numbers are still well above that long term trend. If the restrictions on people’s activity and mixing are responsible for some significant part of the decline since the peak, that may be only a delaying action. Ongoing excess deaths totals could still be well above the (previous) long term trend for quite a while.

Reply to  Derg
October 11, 2020 8:13 am

This is a classic example of where we have degenerated in terms of science’s relationship with an innumerate society.

Far too many people understand the world around them as a series of univariant equations with binary results.

In this case: Wearing mask = safety. Not wearing mask = death.

Reply to  AWG
October 11, 2020 9:19 am

…and now to top it all off

The WHO has done a total reversal…on their settled science….and the WHO is now totally against the lockdown…..that same lockdown the WHO was pushing as necessary…and trashing people for not doing it

Roger Knights
Reply to  Latitude
October 11, 2020 10:47 am

Link please!

Reply to  Roger Knights
October 11, 2020 1:20 pm

One of several reports:

“We in the World Health Organisation do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus,” Dr Nabarro told The Spectator.


I have to wonder: how soon will the WHO disavow this new stance?

Larry in Texas
Reply to  AWG
October 11, 2020 10:40 am

As a guy 65 years old who refuses to wear a mask most places, you are spot on in terms of the simplistic “binary equation” view of the politicians and public health bureaucrats. I don’t need to be “protected” from healthier, younger people nor do I need to see them punished. We all need much more sensible public policy from our cowardly politicians.

very old white guy
Reply to  Derg
October 12, 2020 3:55 am

One thing that the pandemic has taught me is that the word “pandemic” is meaningless.

October 11, 2020 6:22 am

…like wearing a face mask…

A complete waste of time. But very profitable for some, no doubt.

Aside from the fact that the mesh is huge and the eyes are exposed etc, you still need a police force to make sure people wear them correctly. It’s fashionable to wear them below the nose or as a chin warmer.

Alan Chappell
Reply to  fretslider
October 11, 2020 7:04 am

I read that in Sweden the average age of people who got the virus was 78 and the average age of people who died was 82
For me it is politicians playing medical Doctors for monry

Tom in Florida
Reply to  fretslider
October 11, 2020 7:12 am

The proper type of mask, worn properly can be a correct course of action. Yet almost all masks and face coverings fall short of this as do most people who wear them. Why are the airways not flooded with public service announcements about the correct type of mask to buy and the proper way to wear it? A simple thing to do. It would have been a simple thing to only manufacture and promote the proper masks with ample instructions on wearing them.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
October 11, 2020 7:20 am

Since when has a mask effective down to three microns (not the usual disposables, note, they’re a lot bigger) been able to filter out particles of 100nm?

Do you see a chain link fence keeping the mosquitoes out?

M Courtney
Reply to  fretslider
October 11, 2020 8:28 am

It stops droplets.
That has two benefits:
1) It sops Covid viruses travelling in sprays from the mouth or nose.
2) It stops many forms of the common cold for the same reason. That means people don’t need to self-isolate as a precaution because they have the sniffles.
And it’s cheap.

Reply to  M Courtney
October 11, 2020 8:52 am

“1) It sops Covid viruses travelling in sprays from the mouth or nose.”

No, it doesn’t. The Covid Face Mask Challenge easily disproves that.

Reply to  M Courtney
October 11, 2020 8:52 am

Yet no evidence that masks work is available

They are excellent from a psychological point of view but that’s about it.

Reply to  M Courtney
October 11, 2020 9:21 am

For the minority who are infected, a mask might slightly reduce the probability of infecting someone else, for those that are not infected, a piece of cloth over you face is basically useless. Health providers wearing N95 masks, face shields, gowns, gloves and applying proper removal protocols are still getting infected.

Masks are nothing but virtue signalling and yet another illustration of the left’s propensity to impose as much harm as they can get away with on the many in order to feign benefit for the few.

What’s the harm other than significant inconvenience and discomfort? Preventing people from discussing the election in a face to face manner which will only benefit Harris/Biden by minimizing challenges to the MSM’s constant barrage of lies and disinformation that demonizes Trump and those who voted for him.

Reply to  M Courtney
October 11, 2020 1:51 pm

In this context, forced mask wearing is just another form of identity politics.

Robert W. Turner
Reply to  M Courtney
October 11, 2020 2:33 pm

Precovid science on masks suggest that they stop 5-15% of cases of respiratory viruses by blocking large droplets. Other precovid science on respiratory diseases suggests that severity of infection is much worse when the infection is initially contracted by breathing in the nanoscale aerosols (the ones that pass right through a mask) because these aerosols are inhaled straight into the lower respiratory tract, bypassing our protective mucus in the upper respiratory tract. Therefore it is possible that masks are stopping more mild cases of SARS-2 and people that would have had a mild case and had an immune response are faced with a serious case of covid because their first exposure was to the nanoscale particles breathed straight into the LRT. Not desperation, just a guess based on publications before everything became political. And like everyone else says, even in places where masks are mandatory, we are still seeing the spread of the virus, almost as if they are breathing in nanoscale droplets straight into their lungs.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  fretslider
October 11, 2020 10:24 am

Dental masks are made to prevent aerosols from penetrating through to the wearer. They come in three levels but the lowest is sufficient for public use. They also need to be replaced often. These are the only masks that should be made for this effort. And this is where the federal government should step in and have millions of them made and distributed free of charge. If they won’t do this then what’s the use?

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Tom in Florida
October 11, 2020 11:45 am

Dental and surgical masks are used to prevent directly sending *bacteria* into the surgical field. Medical personnel have known for decades that they do nothing to slow or stop a virus. Additionally, they understand and accept that those masks leak around the outside, but as long as they are facing the surgical field, it does not matter. That’s why if they need to cough or sneeze during surgery, they are taught not to turn their heads so that the jets of ejecta shoot out to the sides and not directly onto the patient.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Tom in Florida
October 11, 2020 2:39 pm

No Paul, dental masks are made to prevent splash from the procedures from entering the nose and mouth of those doing the procedure. They are waterproof on the outside layer.

Reply to  fretslider
October 11, 2020 11:26 am

The emerging model is that multiple virions reside on the surface of water based particles that are on the order of microns in diameter or in droplets that are much larger.

So to use your analogy, a chain link fence is being used to keep out golf balls, baseballs and softballs. Some may get through, some won’t.

Reply to  Scissor
October 11, 2020 2:06 pm

But unlike solid objects, some of the aerosols too large to pass through the filter will be broken up by exhalation pressure when they hit the mask into smaller aerosols that can then pass through the filter.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
October 11, 2020 8:06 am

What about the exposed eyes?

Not Chicken Little
Reply to  nc
October 11, 2020 8:54 am

Exactly. The droplets can enter your mouth, your nose, your eyes. No eye protection negates any benefit from mask wearing. And of course your hands that touch infected surfaces and can spread the virus, where other people have also placed their hands, remain a source of infection whether you wear gloves or not, for people who aren’t wearing gloves.

The virus will and has spread in the real world where it’s just not possible for everyone to correctly wear a mask, and gloves, and eye protection, and remember the strict discipline for cleaning, disposal, touching and not touching objects and your face and your mask and…well, everything.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
October 11, 2020 8:24 am

In the early days of the lockdown, I wore an N100 mask (better than an N95 one) given to me to as industrial particulate protection. But it has an exhale valve on it. I was told the mask protected me from particulates but not the people around me. I thought that made sense. There are nuances about of this that are not being discussed in favor of virtue signaling. Why does a person walking outside by themselves wear a mask? Why does a person by themselves riding in a car with the windows rolled up wear a mask? I have heard directly from a doctor that the latter situation is ridiculous. people just do not understand.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  oeman50
October 11, 2020 10:27 am

Being outside in clean fresh air does not require wearing a mask. However, if the air quality is bad then perhaps it makes sense to wear one for that reason.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Tom in Florida
October 11, 2020 9:00 am

I think masks are not a waste of time, but are nevertheless a bad idea, slows down the process of getting through to the other side, like it increasing looks in Sweden.

Reply to  fretslider
October 11, 2020 7:45 am

The covid face mask popo at a store got on my case the other day about wearing the mask they gave me as a beard mask. I encouraged them to do the Covid Face Mask Challenge (exhale vape “smoke” while masked) and asked them why they felt it was their job to act like face mask nazis.

Reply to  icisil
October 11, 2020 9:58 am

Icisil, such a test basically just shows where exhaled air molecules are tending to go. A better test would be to sneeze on your computer screen, count the droplets, put on a mask, sneeze again, count hmmmm….no droplets on your computer screen.
Surgeons mask rules 101, don’t sneeze or otherwise spatter on you patient….

Reply to  DMacKenzie
October 11, 2020 3:04 pm

Unless you’re Biden, then you take off your mask prior to coughing.

Reply to  fretslider
October 11, 2020 12:47 pm

Well, masking is the New State Religion. People believe they work because they *need* to believe. I had an encounter with one of the Frightened Karens of Facebook (yeah, I know) who said that wearing a mask is a privilege and those who complain about masks are just suffering from first-world problems. Yikes!

Reply to  PaulH
October 11, 2020 5:51 pm

To all the mask nit wits here;
Any type of mask reduces the spray distance when you cough, sneeze or holler at police who are in your vicinity. That can be somewhat useful if you are infected and dont know it. Two of the Covid infected people I know only lost their sense of smell. So they had no idea they were infected for many days until getting a test. If you don’t sneeze or cough in the direction of others, the mask has done nothing but make you uncomfortable.

The science behind sick people wearing masks when near others is over 50 years old. The ignorance about masks is just as shocking as people thinking they will end a pandemic. The different masks worn by doctors and dentists have a different purpose.

Reply to  Richard Greene
October 11, 2020 9:33 pm

Approximation for droplet distance: 1 meter for talking, 2 for coughing and 6 for sneezing. When someone is pre-symtomatic but still infected they are not coughing or sneezing so they are exhaling mostly aerosols which go right through (both ways).


Cloth masks don’t work and are potentially infectious.


“This study is the first RCT (Randomized Control Trial) of cloth masks, and the results caution against the use of cloth masks. This is an important finding to inform occupational health and safety. Moisture retention, reuse of cloth masks and poor filtration may result in increased risk of infection.” and “Penetration of cloth masks by particles was almost 97% and medical masks 44%.”

Reply to  TRM
October 12, 2020 9:10 am

Nonsense TRM
I have seen slow motion photography showing spray distance of violent coughs and sneezed that exceed 30 feet indoors with no mask. Outdoors with wind and humidity would be different. The mask shortens the spray distance by variable amounts. A mask makes the six foot social distancing rule, not based on any scientific study, work better. Some of us sneeze a lot during the month or months when our seasonal allergies get to us. The claim that masks do nothing is nonsense. The claim that they do a lot is nonsense too.

This Covid flu seems to take longer to develop symptoms, and sometimes has very mild symptoms, so some infected people unintentionally spread it. Masks on those people are very useful especially when they are indoors near other people. There are over 50 years of studies on masks so don’t you cherry pick a few you just hapoen to like. Wearing a mask somewhat protects others who are near you. Anyone who says otherwise is a
f o o l.

Reply to  TRM
October 12, 2020 4:42 pm


“The CDC study, which surveyed symptomatic COVID-19 patients, has found that 70.6% of respondents reported “always” wearing a mask, while an additional 14.4% say they “often” wear a mask. That means a whopping 85% of infected COVID-19 patients reported habitual mask wearing. Only 3.9% of those infected said they “never” wear a face covering.”


Reply to  TRM
October 12, 2020 8:42 pm

Richard greene… masks as used by the general public are useless and protecting virtually no one. just admit it so we can move on towards the truth.

WHO said 10% of world population has been infected… that’s 750M… with @1M deaths total worldwide, that’s an IFR of @.13%… same as seasonal flu/pneumonia… with an avg age of death close to 80 yes old targeting primarily comorbid elderly, what a nothing burger all this hysteria has been about… unless of course you think it’s really bad, inwhich case I ask where have you been every winter asking for masks and lockdowns?

We have never been lied to more by our media and govt than this. it’s shameful but you still have sheep posting here about the virtues of masks and lockdowns, when all it is is virtue signaling. pathetic.

Len Werner
October 11, 2020 6:23 am

I also agree but not with every word–saying that there have been no clinical trials of the effectiveness of masks in preventing transmission of a virus is not true; they have been done and there certainly are black swans among them. The site on which Xiao’s report is published is ironic.


Reply to  Len Werner
October 11, 2020 7:06 am

It seems there is no clear evidence to date on the effectiveness of masks that could possibly justify tackling a pregnant women to force her to wear a mask.

Reply to  Scissor
October 11, 2020 7:56 am

Good point Sciss,
That’s cuz 49 of the 50 pregnant women that might get tackled don’t have CoVid19….

Jeff in Calgary
Reply to  Scissor
October 11, 2020 8:37 am

Or taxing a mom at a high school outdoor football game.

Jeffrey H Kreiley
October 11, 2020 6:40 am

I’m glad the part, “Both are good scientists looking at similar evidence, but they came to different conclusions,” came toward the end otherwise after reading that I would’ve stopped right there thinking it satire.

Reply to  Jeffrey H Kreiley
October 11, 2020 6:52 am

Were those “conclusions” actually Feynman’s “guesses” with only one matching further observations and tests?

D. Boss
October 11, 2020 6:43 am

Too wishy washy, and supposes all the so called experts have altruistic motivations. Many have or are serving evil intentions, including Fauci.


The statement in the article that Hydroxychloriquine has not been shown to be effective is false.


And also countries that use it for malaria, have dramatically lower covid deaths (75% lower deaths).


Robert W. Turner
Reply to  D. Boss
October 11, 2020 2:41 pm

And the suggestion that vitamin D is merely a recommendation just in case it works is false. Vitamin D has proven to be the most effective prophylaxis and has now even been used to cure people – so you can basically forget about HCQ as well since there is an easier and more effective solution.

Watch, now that summer is over and vitamin D plasma levels are dropping (in those not taking supplements), deaths from covid will start to rise.

Furthermore, I’ll believe Fauci is a good doctor once he actually mentions in public that people should be taking vitamin D supplements.

Reply to  D. Boss
October 12, 2020 2:37 am

Good stuff….and the Scripps position that RaTG13 is both real and natural is false. No samples exist of RaTG13, it has not been found in any other bat faecies analyses so far, and the Natural claim covering the appearance of the ‘immaculate Furin linkages” has also been disproven.
Definitely made in Wuhan’….

October 11, 2020 6:51 am

… forecasting economic, meteorological or epidemiological events more than a short time ahead continues to prove frustratingly hard, and experts are sometimes worse at it than amateurs, because they overemphasize their pet causal theories.

Actually, it’s worse. Experts can always find data to back up their assertions. If you’re sufficiently educated, you can believe anything, no matter how ridiculous.

The amateur will point out something glaringly obvious. The expert will then snowball everyone and ‘prove’ that the glaringly obvious thing actually doesn’t matter.

Reply to  commieBob
October 11, 2020 10:10 am

“Actually, it’s worse. Experts can always find data to back up their assertions.”

For example, the glaring violation of COE where the IPCC’s nominal sensitivity of 0.8C per W/m^2 results in 4.4 W/m^2 of incremental surface emissions, while the average W/m^2 from the Sun only contributes about 1.6 W/m^2 to the surface emissions.

They try and claim that the average Joules of forcing not accounted for by the incremental analysis powers the dramatic increase for the next W/m^2 while neglecting the fact that those unaccounted Joules are already maintaining the average temperature which is also not accounted for.

In this case, the excuse is massive positive feedback where they point to Venus as the degenerate case. This illustrates complete ignorance about the LINEAR feedback amplifier analysis that was misapplied to the climate system to support this silly idea which it turns out was the holy grail rationalization for a climate sensitivity large enough to justify the formation of the IPCC and climate science has been horribly broken ever since.

October 11, 2020 6:54 am

What has it taught us? People who won’t accept the findings of climate science won’t accept any other science either

Reply to  griff
October 11, 2020 7:24 am

Climate models are not real science.

But then you knew that.

Reply to  griff
October 11, 2020 7:34 am


Reply to  griff
October 11, 2020 8:15 am

Griff – Nullius in verba

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  griff
October 11, 2020 9:09 am

There is plenty of science I accept, what is shown is that crap models are……crap.
The imperial college model was based on incomplete data and so is crap. Sweden proves it every day, as the article shows.
Climate models are all built to try and torture out the same confession, that CO2 caused late 20th century temp rise (which necessitated the fraud hockey stick by the dead beat mickmann to eliminate previous warm periods).

There are people who want so badly for human co2 to be the earths temp knob, they can’t even see how religious they are as this is just original sin all over again.
The temp does not follow CO2 so the guess is wrong.

I see you as being a very small, sad, scared individual and all you really want is someone or something bigger than you to fix the perceived problems.

Reply to  Pat from kerbob
October 11, 2020 9:28 pm

Sweden has done horrible compared to its neighbors, Denmark, Norway and Finland. Now maybe they will catch up to Sweden at some point, but right now they lag far behind Sweden in cases and deaths.

Reply to  Pat from kerbob
October 12, 2020 12:58 am

The article claims that Sweden did not have a lockdown. This is clearly untrue and even the most cursory look at the restrictions there show this. Using Sweden as a basis based on these false claims, is dishonest.

Reply to  griff
October 11, 2020 10:21 am

What this has taught us is that those who succumb to confirmation bias over the scientific method would rather harm all legitimate science than accept a scientific truth that contradicts their bias.

When science is controversial, you can’t just blindly pick on side because it aligns with your bias. The evidence of how dangerous this can be is that the political left keeps choosing the wrong side of controversial science and then rolls it into their dogma as if it was true.

Reply to  griff
October 11, 2020 1:49 pm

What do you mean by “accept climate science” ?

You are one of the climate shills who is most likely to just ignore all the science that shows we are actually in a cooler period of the Holocence.

You are one of the main climate change deniers to appear on this blog.

Rest of us don’t “deny” anything that there is solid scientific proof for.

You can’t even find any real science to support the most basic conjecture of climate science.. ie warming by atmospheric CO2.

What your AGW meme is, isn’t “science”, it is religious or brain-washed anti-science “belief”

Reply to  griff
October 11, 2020 2:00 pm

You mean assumptions, right? Why would any rational person, guided not just by education, but also by experience and trust in empirical proof, believe in projections and emotional stories peppered with “could, should, might, may” happen.

Reply to  griff
October 11, 2020 6:06 pm

Wild guess always wrong predictions of the future climate are “science” according to the griffter.

No, “real science” is NASA making hundreds of “adjustments ” to historical temperature data every month. Not to mention the huge number of wild guesses, never verified… er… I mean “infilling”.

But of course none of this matters because the world will end from climate change in 10 years, formerly 12 years, according to notable climate science perfesser, Ms. Greta “thundering” Thunberg, and high school dropout too. Her brilliance is confirmed by petfessers Alexandria
Ocassionally Coherent and AL “the climate blimp” Gore, who invented the Internet when he was younger, and slimmer.

Yes, Griffter, the climate was allegedly “perfect” around 1700 to 1750, “pre-industrial” except that the people living then thought it was too cold, and any change from then is an EXISTENTIAL threat. Griffter, you are the Bozo the Clown of real climate science, coming here to stimulate people who believe in real science … with your junk science secular religious beliefs about climate change. No offense intended to any actor who played Bozo on TV.

mike macray
Reply to  griff
October 12, 2020 8:58 am

…People who won’t accept the findings of climate science won’t accept any other science either…

So true!
But then ‘climate science’ is not a real science, it’s an unsubstantiated belief.


Reply to  griff
October 12, 2020 9:35 am

I don’t accept vaccine “science” either.

Because it’s phony.

October 11, 2020 6:56 am

Good commentary. I would also point out that many scientists in the U.S. working within academia and in numerous government labs have become something like welfare recipients, whose job is to produce politically derived expert statements in exchange for their wages and benefits.

There are still people doing good work but there are very many that are misguided and even those who are not promoted by merit but rather by quota or a willingness to promote a certain agenda. In COVID-19 at least we are seeing dissent and some diversity of opinion and lessons are being learned and advancements are being made. Argument is still allowed, though social media is used to suppress opinions that don’t support one political party or the other.

In the area of climate change, diversity of opinion is beaten down and suppressed as a matter of course in favor of leftist ideals.

Reply to  Scissor
October 11, 2020 8:32 am

Almost all idea in the US are now beaten down if they don favor Leftist ideas. Today leftist are no different that yesterday leftest that murdered 200,000,000 million people in the twenty century. God help us if they again gain control.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Mark Luhman
October 11, 2020 10:33 pm

Mark, you seem to drop the ends of words off a lot:

“Almost all idea in the US are now beaten down if they don favor Leftist ideas. Today leftist are no different that yesterday leftest [sic] that murdered 200,000,000 million people in the twenty century. God help us if they again gain control.”

Very odd.

Eric Barnes
October 11, 2020 7:00 am

“politics can sometimes lead scientists astray”

Misstatement. Money leads them astray, the politicians are there to make sure they either stick with the narrative or a new “scientist” is needed.

Nick Schroeder
October 11, 2020 7:07 am

How ‘bout some mo’ data, yum-yum, data.

Global, WHO.
The US, India and Brazil together have more cases than the ENTIRE rest of the world combined.
The top ten countries have over 70% of the cases.
The US, Brazil, India and Mexico together have more Covid-19 deaths than the ENTIRE rest of the world combined.
The top ten countries have 72% of the deaths.
Seems to me more of a problem with crappy health care systems in a few countries and not a global pandemic.

NYC and six states have accumulated more Covid-19 deaths than the ENTIRE rest of the country.
The top 15 states have accumulated over 75% of the US deaths.
The 75+ demographic has more deaths than the ENTIRE rest of the country combined.
The 65+ demographic represents almost 80% of the deaths.
The 55+ demographic represents over 90% of the Covid-19 deaths.
Japan has the highest percentage of 65+ in the world, 27%, yet a little over 1,500 deaths.
What do they know/do that the lying, fact free, fake news MSM does not consider newsworthy?

Denver, Arapahoe and Jefferson counties represent more Covid-19 deaths than the ENTIRE rest of Colorado.
The top ten Colorado counties represent 90% of the state’s Covid-19 deaths.

Why should the entire state/country/world suffer for these (BLUE) health care **** holes?

The data absolutely BELLOWS SCAM!!!!!!!-demic!!!!!

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Nick Schroeder
October 11, 2020 7:49 am

Pareto and Occam in equal parts.

Reply to  Nick Schroeder
October 11, 2020 8:28 am

Excuse me. Do you really believe the US numbers, even worse the CCP numbers. It looks to me your statement is that of a useful idiot since you did not look at deaths per million, the US is tenth and New Jersey is number on with New York number two. It was idiots sending COVID-19 positive people to elder care facilities not bad medical care!

Reply to  Nick Schroeder
October 11, 2020 8:40 am

Exactly – the US took down its Hill-Burton health system over decades, then tried to bailout health insurance, aka Obamacare. It has the highest health costs in the world, with how many with no insurance?

Same for the UK – they knew the NHS would collapse – it is decrepit.

The unfunny irony in all this is the market ideology applied to health has destroyed the economy with panic lock-downs.
It is too late to admit this rampant ideology, mostly unquestioned, is lethal.

Still, many have more time to reflect now and I think there will be surprises.

Larry in Texas
Reply to  bonbon
October 11, 2020 11:44 am

I don’t know where you get the idea that this is “market ideology applied to health.” The US health care system is one of the more heavily government-regulated, government-monitored systems in the world, just short of although not nationalized health care like the UK or Canada. Most of the regulation has taken place at the state and local level over the years. With the Federal drug laws, especially the Delaney Amendment of 1962 passed in the wake of the Thalidomide controversy, the HIPAA legislation of 1996, then finally Obamacare in 2009, the Federal government has increasingly encroached upon state and local authority. This along with Medicare, the nefarious financial relationships between the insurance and drug industries and various government regulators and politicians, and the reliance upon ever newer medical technologies are the chief reasons why, per capita, our health care costs more than any where else in the world. If this is your idea of “market ideology,” you have no idea of what real markets are or how they work.

Marilyn Reed
October 11, 2020 7:16 am

I am not a scientist by any stretch of the imagination, but I have a question. Asians often wear masks religiously during flu season…or at least I’ve heard that. Were the Chinese wearing masks back in November when Covid supposedly began there? If they were wearing masks to stop the regular flu, then why didn’t it stop Covid if they are so effective?

Reply to  Marilyn Reed
October 11, 2020 7:37 am

Its a matter of degrees. Learning to swim is the best way to prevent drownings. But then there is the old navy saying that sailors don’t need to know how to swim, if you know how to swim, they just find your body further from the oil slick….
Wearing a mask just prevents sneezes from spreading phlegm, mucous, and saliva over a larger area. If you go enough places, you’ll eventually be exposed to someones spatter but it might take several times as many places, thereby reducing the infection rate on average.

Reply to  DMacKenzie
October 11, 2020 8:22 am

Wearing a mask ensures that larger aerosols will be broken up into smaller aerosols that can pass through the mask and hang in the air longer, which will then be inhaled by persons walking into the cloud of lingering, expelled aerosols. There’s too much exhaled air volume and pressure for a surgical mask to prevent that from happening.

Reply to  icisil
October 11, 2020 9:12 am

Has anyone done worthwhile research into the question of aerosols as a cause of casual infection?

I understand the dangers in close contact and closed environments but I would have thought that “expelled aerosols” would have dispersed sufficiently simply by the air movement of people passing each other to reduce the viral load below the level needed for infection.

I’m happy to learn otherwise!

Reply to  Newminster
October 11, 2020 4:00 pm

There’s a lot of research into how COVID, seasonal flu, etc spread, but no definitive results.

Leo (above) found this interesting article by the CDC: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/5/19-0994_article, for instance, “…there is a lack of consensus on the role of fine particle aerosols in transmission”.

To summarise the effectiveness of personal protective measures:
Handwashing: ineffective
Coughing into your elbow: ineffective
Face masks: ineffective
Surface cleaning: ineffective

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Newminster
October 11, 2020 10:36 pm

“there is a lack of consensus on the role of fine particle aerosols in transmission”

Don’t give a damn about consensus. What about data?

Reply to  icisil
October 11, 2020 3:02 pm

I don’t believe that masks are necessarily that effective, but there are static and covalent forces that help to trap virions, which are at least as important as size filtering. In addition, they reduce the spread of one’s breath cloud, in effect increasing distance.

Studies are being done and hopefully results will help guide us to use the best practices.

Reply to  Marilyn Reed
October 11, 2020 8:15 am

Marilyn Reed
October 11, 2020 at 7:16 am

Because dust pollution is a damaging lung condition, which better be protected from, especially during a flu season.

That is the only effect of mask wearing during a flu season in Asian countries like China,
does not stop or slow flu, only an extra protection from other environment conditions that may elevate the impact of flu in the lungs during that period.

Does this sound as a reasonable enough answer to your question?

Some times people learn themselves, by trial and error, what works best, especially when it comes to simple methods and treatments… especially for constant low risk conditions.
Which for non ending constant conditions,
such a behavior has lead even to taboo.
Strict unbroken rule(s), regardless of religion or any believe association… just it the taboo.


Tom in Florida
Reply to  whiten
October 12, 2020 4:45 am

I have said all along it is those people living in crowded cities with polluted air that are the most susceptible to lung infections and virus that target the lungs. Look where the overwhelming majority of cases and deaths are in the U.S. Overcrowded cities with their dirty, overcrowded public transportation systems are perfect for high infection rates and rapid spreading of this virus. But again politics will prevent this truth from coming to the forefront.

Reply to  Marilyn Reed
October 11, 2020 8:29 am

“Asians often wear masks religiously during flu season”

I bet they still get flu.

Ron Long
October 11, 2020 7:20 am

I think, which is different from “I know”, that Feynman used the word “guess” instead of a more complicated “analyze the data know relevant to the subject, select the most direct clues to the subject, formulate a working hypothesis” and then design a test to determine if your selection of data and subsequent test show the idea is correct enough to be allowed into addressing the subject.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Ron Long
October 11, 2020 9:14 am

A hypothesis is a guess.
I like his terminology

Rod Evans
Reply to  Ron Long
October 11, 2020 9:47 am

Feynman did say “guess” in his presentation . He was scientifically correct to use that word.

Ron Long
Reply to  Rod Evans
October 11, 2020 11:03 am

Pat and Rod, my personal preference is to restrict “guess” to mental activity outside science, and to restrict “hypothesis” to the above procedure in the discipline of science. I was taught this in the graduate class “Philosophy of Science” by the late Dr. William Taubeneck.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Ron Long
October 11, 2020 1:07 pm

We could use your definition for actual science and the word “guess” for what Mickey Mann does

Ron Long
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
October 11, 2020 1:47 pm

Count me in!

Robert W. Turner
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
October 11, 2020 2:43 pm

I think the correct word in that case would be “manipulate”.

Steve Case
October 11, 2020 7:24 am

Common sense says masks have value, even if it’s only by keeping the wearer from touching their nose and mouth. And it’s not a great imposition to wear them. Then there’s the mosquito & Chain-link fence argument and a YouTube of Dr. Fauci himself saying they may even have a negative effect.

On the obviously political nature, President Trump touted hydroxychloroquine and the press almost immediately pooh poohed the drug. And some states banned the sale of the drug for coronavirus treatment.

Reply to  Steve Case
October 11, 2020 8:13 am

“Common sense says masks have value, even if it’s only by keeping the wearer from touching their nose and mouth. ”

Always these kinds of inane excuses. Reminds me of climate explainers. Many mask wearers probably touch their faces much more in order to reposition their masks that constantly slip down.

And mask wearing is a huge imposition and unhealthy.

Reply to  icisil
October 11, 2020 11:03 am

“Common sense says masks have value, even if it’s only by keeping the wearer from touching their nose and mouth. ”

The words “Common Sense” have devolved into trigger words, more frequently thrown around to cause the audience to drop their guard to what follows. It ends up being a red-flag like “Trust Me” and “Let me be honest with you” are now indicators that lies are proximate.

The inverse of “common sense” is “Darwin Award”. True common sense is proven by age and quality of life, that is, if someone is lacking common sense, they usually have short and pain filled lives.

If “common sense” must be added to a phrase, then apparently it isn’t so common in that it has to be pointed out to sentient people, and that the person using that phrase is arrogant and most likely wrong.

In the case of the “face mask” controversy, if it was common sense, finding a signal within the noise would be easy and discovered by even the least disciplined of researchers.

Doug Deal
Reply to  Steve Case
October 11, 2020 12:05 pm

I watched a two or three minutes press stop by Biden yesterday. He touched and adjusted his mask 16 times (roughly every 8-10 seconds).

How do these stop you from touching your face exactly?

Reply to  Steve Case
October 11, 2020 4:04 pm

Common sense says that touching the mask, instead of your face must protect you from the disease, until you discover that up to 18 bacterial colonies have been found on the masks of primary school children after just 8 hours of wear. These things are positively dangerous.

October 11, 2020 7:31 am

Do Your Own Research!

Even this common sense idea is strongly contested.

You Must Not ‘Do Your Own Research’ When It Comes To Science
Ethan Siegel — Senior Contributor — FORBES Editors’ Pick — Jul 30, 2020

I always do my own research when it is important or some current proclamation or pronouncement pins my BS Meter to full on.

But in the real world, many people are incapable of doing their own research — either from lack of adequate general and/or specific education or from (and it is dangerous to even say this bit…) low IQ (meaning here: inability to understand/comprehend complex data).

These people, instead of “doing their own research”, do something that they think is that but is in reality just surfing the web or channel searching the TV looking for opinions that agree with their own biases or new information that “seems true” to them — something that mixes well in their muddled understanding of reality.

Gads — that sounds so elitist, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it is all too true.

I have relatives that are terrific people — do anything to help anyone in need — but who, for various reasons, would find it totally impossible to research and come to any kind of reasonable evidence- or fact-based opinion on any of today’s complex problems. They simply don’t have the educational background, don’t have enough foundational understanding of basic science, political theory and practice, biology, physics, philosophy, etc — and, truthfully, they have never learned how to think clearly or critically. This includes people who are “professionals” — but only in their narrow fields.

Asking many of our neighbors and relatives — people on the street — or even professional journalists and columnists — to “Do Your Own Research” is like YoYo Ma asking them to “play the cello like me!”.

I agree with Dr. Curry and Matt Ridley — with the above caveat.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 11, 2020 8:11 am

Love your Yo Yo Ma analogy, Kip. Very true….

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 11, 2020 9:11 am

Kip, it doesn’t help that critical thinking is no long taught in k-12 or even university.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 11, 2020 3:41 pm

You are absolutely right Kip. But even layman have a BS Meter and this site among a few others have at least given me choices and added information. I have learned to keep out of a science debate, it’s out of my depth obviously.

But I understand better, than those who choose to ‘trust the consensus scientists’, that polar bears aren’t going to disappear any time soon, that CO2 is not going to destroy the planet and why, that the production of renewables and batteries are the real threat to resources and the environment and they are in no way sustainable. That we (you) don’t have all the answers to every problem, the science is never settled.

In the past two years I have learned so much more, many articles are presented in a way that any layman can become better informed. There are often links that take you to other links, it’s not higher education but I personally am more sure of who I can trust in regard to issues that will affect my life and those of future generations.

I also enjoy the political discourse and the humor.

I have been treated with respect by the scientists I have had discourse with (mostly), and have seen very little in the way of arrogance. Of course arrogance is not confined to science, and comes with success, be it academic or in business and it serves no positive purpose.

The laymen who frequent this site are more likely to speak out against leftist science, the general population are not going to get the information such as here on this site from the MSM. The general population need to be educated.
I guess that makes me a useful idiot.

The knowledge I gained from this site helped me stop an industrial scale solar works. It’s not a PhD but it’s a small achievement, that benefits many.

Thank you to all WUWT contributors.

Reply to  Megs
October 11, 2020 4:36 pm

Megs ==> Thank you for the stirring endorsement of the work I and many others do here (and on many other well-managed blogs).

For me, what you describe is the reason I write here.

October 11, 2020 7:35 am

What a great article. Thank you, JC.

Hideo Watanabe
October 11, 2020 7:37 am

I have never seen any scientific report in which the new 2020 ICD-10-CM code U07.1 was mentioned.
The code became effective on October 1,2019 for the disease described 2019-nCoV Acute Respiratory Disease.
As this code allows to count the deaths confirmed or presumed COVID-19 without autopsy, mortality has been inflated.
English parliament approved the similar code on March 26, 2020 and WHO notified worldwide to use this code.
In my country, Japan, it was June when the previous mortality was revised upward.
The pandemic has taught us that scientists are not worried to use the death toll politically skewed.

October 11, 2020 7:37 am

If in doubt, do your homework.

Trouble is, 90% of the population are completely incapable of doing so. Imagine the average Joe investigating ACE-2 pathways of cell infection (for example). Maybe the upper 10 percentile would have enough of a basic education to actually go and read the papers.

Look at Steve’s excruciatingly detailed take down of Mann over at Climate Audit. A much larger audience is able to follow because it is primarily just mathematical, but if you really wanted to understand, you had to put in quite a time investment to learn PCA and demonstrate for yourself how Mann abused it. But again, maybe only the upper 15% would have enough of a math background to be able to begin.

The rest of the 80-90% couldn’t even tell you who Newton was, or solve a quadratic equation even after being given the formula. These are typically the idiots marching, carrying signs and chaining themselves to pipelines.

Reply to  Fraizer
October 11, 2020 8:11 am

Fraizer ==> Who are you quoting from what essay? (I like it….) Drop a link?

Reply to  Kip Hansen
October 11, 2020 3:24 pm

Grrr. funbled the /blockquote.
Only the 1st line is the quote.

Reply to  Fraizer
October 11, 2020 4:33 pm

Fraizer ==> Ok, thanks….you may have seen above that I agree.

mark from the midwest
Reply to  Fraizer
October 11, 2020 8:25 am

Thanks for re-posting this. It goes well with Charles Rotters text, but just wanted to comment that it doesn’t take much to understand PCA, it’s nothing more than sorting your sock drawer. Same can be said for a lot of data reduction methods, they are conceptually simple, it’s the fact that we use math short-hand to try and explain it to people, and that just doesn’t work. You need to tie it to something where they have first-hand experience and then work backwards to the part about how it works on real data

Jeffrey H Kreiley
Reply to  Fraizer
October 11, 2020 10:10 am

I hear you but I’m not a smart man either. All I do is see which person/persons/ side is acting like a two-year-old having a temper tantrum or using the F bomb every other word to communicate, or denigrates the other side without engaging in mature dialogue then I pretty much know who is on the right side of history.

Reply to  Fraizer
October 11, 2020 12:37 pm

This is why it is of so great importance for the supposed “upper” 15% to ACCURATELY simplify these concepts for the uneducated so that they do have a framework on which to build upon for themselves. Be honest about the dangers of appeal to authority and at the same time acknowledge how many times out of sheer necessity it must be used. For years I taught a two week introduction to astronomy course to high school students. We did not focus on the flashy conclusions of astronomers, but the basic earth bond “facts” students could experience themselves and how those ideas could be extrapolated to explain what is observed in those objects far away. Parallax starts with a finger held between the eyes. The moon is about half the width of your pinky held at arms length regardless of when it is “huge” on the horizon or “small” at it’s zenith when to most observers it is white in color even though it is actually as dark as worn asphalt. Magnitude and albedo need to be seen as things which they encounter every day before they can understand them at distance. Even when I do this on smaller talks with adult audiences they are very appreciative when all I have done is give them a very tiny insight into the wonders of the night sky that they can clearly see and in some small way understand what wonders of their everyday experience lie behind that distant beauty.

Reply to  Fraizer
October 12, 2020 12:33 am

I would add a little clarification. I am a geophysicist. I have maths and stats training but they are definitely not my strengths.

However, I don’t need to have very strong math or stats skills to follow a well written argument or even a proof, I only need those skills to derive the proof.

For me, because I have to read a lot of published papers in journals as part of my job, when I read Mann’s MBH98 it is very turgid, it is poorly explained and glosses over many points. It also uses quite arrogant nomenclature – the word “skill” for efficiency in stats prediction. Whilst they are nominally correct terms, they are pretentious. The whole paper just seems opaque, with many important explanations simply omitted.

On the other hand, when I read McIntyre & McKitrick (2005 I think), the argument was clear, well laid out and easy to follow. More importantly, when they test the PCA algorithm with stationary red noise and get a hockey stick – well game over really. Its the simple, basic test I would have performed (I work with stochastic models a lot).

I believe one of Mann and cohorts retorts about M&M was “wrong form of noise”. But then they fail to go on to show what they thought was the “right form of noise” and demonstrate the PCA method therefore works if the “right” form of noise is used. That’s not science, its advocacy. Game over at that point – McIntyre & McKitrick are shown to be correct and the uncentred variance is nonsense. Which intuitively it clearly is Show me any other prediction method using uncentred variance.

October 11, 2020 7:57 am

What the pandemic has taught us about science

It’s taught us the cultural marxists will stop at nothing, even sacrificing lives by twisting medical science, dumping unfortunate disease victims into retirement homes to purposely spread the disease to vulnerable people, and destroying economies to get to their ends.

October 11, 2020 8:14 am

In a political world there is policy-based science. In a rational world we would have science-based policy.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
October 11, 2020 8:38 am

No again the trouble is what is “science-based policy” ? I see a lot of that is said to be “science-based policy” that is not. That is the problem. We have no filter to get the chaff from the grain in our present “science-based policy”!

October 11, 2020 8:38 am

Donald Rumsfeld famously said ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’.

As discussed above, Science is a process for asking questions about how our world works, and then trying to find the answer. But inevitably, in any scientific study, the most important result, the one that leads to true scientific breakthroughs, is identifying new questions that need to be asked, i.e. identifying things that you didn’t know that you didn’t know. And as a result of this process the human condition has made immense progress.

Today, in the era of ‘the pandemic’ and ‘global warming’, Science, as a process, is under attack, primarily emanating from the political left, through:

1. Settled Science: The clear and simple message: ‘stop asking questions’. i.e STOP SCIENCE.

2. Corrupted Data: Public data bases, particularly climate data bases, seem to be continuously ‘adjusted’, to reflect, not nature, but somebody’s version of what they want nature to be for their own benefit. Such corrupted data compromises Science for decades to come.

The existential threat facing Science today, the likes of which have not been seen since the Middle Ages, threatens not only human progress, but humanity itself.

Steve Case
Reply to  dh-mtl
October 11, 2020 8:57 am

The existential threat facing Science today, the likes of which have not been seen since the Middle Ages, threatens not only human progress, but humanity itself.

Humanity itself? No we will still be here, some of us will suffer and some will rejoice. You know winners and losers. It’s the ratio of winners and losers that is in balance which affects the quality of life.

Alan in Kansas
Reply to  dh-mtl
October 11, 2020 10:53 am

dh-mtl “The existential threat facing Science today, the likes of which have not been seen since the Middle Ages,…”

Oh yes! We have seen it, in my lifetime. Check out what Lysenko and Stalin did to Soviet genetics (1935-52). Lysenkoism was fake science brutally promoted for ideological reasons. It degraded Soviet agriculture and contributed to the eventual failure of the Soviet Union.

Reply to  Alan in Kansas
October 11, 2020 3:58 pm

Here’s the link Alan. Courtesy of Joel O’Bryan from a previous article.


Reply to  dh-mtl
October 12, 2020 12:38 am

Rumsfeld’s famous speech on known knowns etc is actually derived originally from the play Meno by Plato in which Socrates is talking. However, many experts working in uncertainty since Plato have used a form of Rumsfeld’s words to describe the various aspcets of uncertainty and knowledge.

The other aspect commonly forgotten is the very important difference in outcomes in statistics and prediction between a Type I and a Type II error.

October 11, 2020 8:40 am

Regarding science and coronavirus, we have an important statement reported in Newsweek:

In an email sent to Newsweek, one of the petitions co-authors, Dr. Martin Kulldorff wrote, “We are very pleased with the reception that the Great Barrington Declaration has received, with over 75,000 co-signers in less than two days, including over 3,000 Medical and Public Health Scientists and over 4,000 Medical Practitioners.”

“We are not advocating a ‘herd immunity strategy.’ Herd immunity is not a strategy, but a scientifically proven phenomena, just like gravity.

And you would not say that an airplane pilot is using a ‘gravity strategy’ to land a plane. No matter what strategy is used, we will reach herd immunity sooner or later, just as an airplane will reach the ground one way or another,” Kulldorff’s email said. “The key is to minimize the number of deaths until we reach herd immunity and that is what the Great Barrington Declaration is about.”

Background and links at https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2020/10/11/herd-immunity-not-if-but-when/

Coach Springer
October 11, 2020 8:41 am

Science is science. Scientists are a completely different phenomenon. Question: Are scientist and jackass mutually exclusive terms? (Imagine preening, moralizing over-reacher of your choice.)

Boff Doff
October 11, 2020 8:42 am

Fauci and Tegnell looked at the same data and came to different conclusions. Both wrong.
As was widely suggested at the time, the right course would be to thoroughly isolate the vulnerable and ensure that the virus then spread as widely as possible as quickly as possible.
Sadly that course is still the only way forward but now very many people will die as a result of not doing the right thing first time round.

Reply to  Boff Doff
October 11, 2020 7:42 pm

Mid to late January reports from China indicated that the death toll was in the 3-4 percent range. It took guts for Sweden to do what they did and to stick with it.

Kevin kilty
October 11, 2020 9:03 am

In the present atmosphere we are not likely to produce credible results from many studies. First, IRBs have got to be really senistive about approving randomized clinical trials when there are overwhelming costs in terms of bad publicity and potential lawsuits. Second, people are so concerned about the disease, even if they are in a near-zero risk category, that they probably will not follow protocols rigorously, so investigations of non pharmeceutical interventions are going to be frought with covariate and confounding influences. Randomized trials might even have trouble enlisting sufficiently large numbers of volunteers to reach design statistical power, and so forth, simply because the epidemic does not touch large enough populations in designated regions for long enough duration.

The present public dispersal of information about the disease is full of conflicting views. As examples, we have “adults” in charge insisting that the disease is airborne, while some peer-reviewed reseach says there is no direct evidence of such. The article implies there are no draw-backs to masks, but the over-selling of masks does lead to harm if it causes people to relax about more effective measures — like avoiding high probability of transmission events. Look at the mini-epidemics on college campuses for evidence of this.

We will eventually learn indisputable truths about COVID-19, but most probably not until the panic subsides years from now.

Larry in Texas
Reply to  Kevin kilty
October 11, 2020 11:59 am

Kevin – and that’s the sad part, isn’t it? That in this climate of fear and panic we may not be able to learn the full science and facts related to this virus until many years down the road.

But in the current institutional climate, we may never learn enough, because the public health/medical research establishments are so primed to see the worst-case scenario in everything BEFORE the full facts are known about any disease. It is those institutions I would like to see fundamentally reformed – IF such a thing is even possible.

Peter Sable
Reply to  Kevin kilty
October 11, 2020 11:35 pm

. The article implies there are no draw-backs to masks,

And the article is wrong about this. The article provides no evidence of lack of harm, just states it as a fact.

There is, however, plenty of evidence of harm from masks. It comes from the Sick Building Syndrome (or “Building Respiratory Syndrome”) area of research. The data is unequivocal. Humans need fresh air or they get physically and mentally ill and lose the ability to think well. This research has driven a lot of changes in HVAC standards.

Here’s a taste of some of that research. The summary is that long term exposure to greater than 1,000 PPM CO2 isn’t good for you. That’s why when you get a CO2 meter, the alarm level is set at 1,000 PPM, which is the default for many build standards across the planet.


And if you don’t believe exhaled CO2 doesn’t persist in masks, then you haven’t measured it or read the research on N95 masks. You can think about it mechanically – In fresh air, we exhale 40,000 PPM and inhale 400 PPM, or 100x difference. Any obstruction raises the level substantially. I’ve measured it. The best was a handkerchief, at 1,800 PPM. N100 mask 6000 PPM. Typical cloth masks range from 2,500 PPM to > 10,000 PPM. Note all these values are above the threshold set by HVAC standards.

Here’s CO2 research data on N95 masks: http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/18565/1/Sinkule_Edward_ETD_Pitt2013.pdf

A meter if you want to measure it for yourself (the real way to do science): https://archive.is/bAu33

Going shopping for 30 minutes? Wear a mask. Working 8 hour days with a mask? Terrible idea.

Jeffery P
October 11, 2020 9:08 am

Scientists are human, go figure. Advancements in science are often held back by th establishment. Never discount how pettiness, overdue eloped ego and personal anymousity have changed influenced human history.

But this time it’s different. Science is politicized to a degree that would make Hitler, Stalin & Mao turn green with envy (were that they were alive. )

Larry in Texas
Reply to  Jeffery P
October 11, 2020 12:01 pm

Auto-correct strikes again! “Overdue eloped ego!” Now that’s a funny one. But I understand that you meant “overdeveloped ego.”

October 11, 2020 9:11 am

“Anthony Fauci, the chief scientific adviser in the U.S., was adamant in the spring that a lockdown was necessary and continues to defend the policy”

…are we talking about take a cruise, have a political rally, go to the mall, movie theatre, gym……don’t wear a mask, China’s delay in transparency …….Fauci?

that Fauci?

This “article” just repeats the same bull crap……

Pat from kerbob
October 11, 2020 9:19 am

An entire article about the fraud of Mickey Mann and never a mention of his name.

We written

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
October 11, 2020 9:22 am


October 11, 2020 10:00 am

Science is one of four logical domains. Science is, with cause, a philosophy and practice in the near-domain, forward, backward, and all around, forced by chaos (e.g. evolution) that limits human perception by virtue of what is known, unknown, cannot be known and computationally unwieldy.

Religion is a behavioral protocol, a philosophy given by God, gods, and mortal gods. Faith (i.e. trust), a logical domain, is separable but complementary to religion (e.g. individual dignity, intrinsic value, inordinate worth). Everyone has a religion, The popular religion of our age, which its proponents normalize as ostensibly “secular”, is Pro-Choice, selective, opportunistic, relativistic, politically congruent (“ethics”), practiced by liberals (i.e. divergent – typically generational – ideology) and liberal sects of the Progressive Church. Principles… axioms matter.

The evidence for masks in general use is not “common sense”, but rather intuitive and expedient, cargo cult science. Not only do masks have variable effectiveness that varies with composition, construction, attachment, but also in space (e.g. context) and time. Even in specialized use, they must be carefully used, disposed, with knowledge of their limitations.

Postoperative wound infections and surgical face masks: a controlled study

At best, they offer some protection (e.g. symptomatic forced expulsions, large particulates) or a placebo effect (i.e. unproductive). At worst, they are counterproductive. In our current pandemic, we reached suppression level before mandates, and observed recurring spikes several weeks after mandates ere enforced. Reducing safe sanctuary and an effective planned pathogen protocol happen through prevention, but are sustainable through immunity (e.g. preexisting, intrinsic, acquired).

HCQ is proven to be an effective cellular “border guard” in vitro. It has a low risk, well-established risk profile. It has been observed to have a high degree of correlation to mitigate disease progression in use and trials throughout the world. It complements the the body’s defenses. It is most effective when consumed early following ingestion of the virus, in a cocktail that includes Zinc (i.e. reproductive inhibitor), and perhaps Az (i.e. mitigate infection and inflammation).

The pandemic has reminded us that inference (i.e. created knowledge) is a poor substitute for deduction in the scientific method. Also, the traditional guidance: multiple, independent resources to reduce false positives, false negatives, misinformation, and other fallacies, and to approach the truth from facts, rather than the facts from truth.

October 11, 2020 10:12 am

If you wear a mask, believe it is an effective barrier, don’t forget your goggles. The eyes are a window to contagion.

That said, based on the epidemiology of the pathogen, it is likely that the transmission modes have been mischaracterized, they are symptom-dependent, context-sensitive, and the probable infection route is fecal/oral. Wash your hands, limit your interaction with black holes, and follow best practices for hand to mouth, to nose, to eyes interaction. Oh, and be wary of Planned Parent facilities (i.e. cross-contamination), the leading cause of excess deaths, and unsanitary environments (e.g. Water Closets). You should probably avoid Planned Parenthood, too, which is a leading cause of excess deaths in what is otherwise “normal” times.

James F. Evans
October 11, 2020 10:22 am

Good article.

An a priori assumption, a guess, hopefully educated, starts the ball rolling, then a test is developed, a procedure, usually in the form of a physical mechanism.

When this is done, science has a good track record.

Controlled laboratory experiments where different physical conditions can be controlled and adjusted to see what effect those changes cause is another way to say observation & measurement.

But climate at this time can’t be replicated in the laboratory.

That’s the problem.

It’s true in astronomy, as well, certainly beyond our solar system.

And many aspects of geology are the same way.

It’s interesting and astounding that as advanced as humanity is regarding technology, in many ways we are blind to the reality around us because of group-think in the scientific academy.

And, in certain industries, as well, where scientific experiments are lacking.

October 11, 2020 11:04 am

This Ridley statement is not true “But there have been no randomized controlled trials on the wearing of masks to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases”. Based upon my review of the literature (5 meta analyses, 3 on cloth and 2 comparing cloth to N95, one published in JAMA and another published by the CDC in May of this year) there are a minimum of 2 ca 10,000 participant controlled studies of the efficacy of masks limiting the spread of upper respiratory viruses like flu and covid. Both of them (and all 5 meta analyses essentially concluded that wearing masks made no difference. Overall neither cloth or N95 masks are useful. Except as instruments of fear and control.

Larry in Texas
October 11, 2020 12:08 pm

Good catch, William! I suggest you forward your information to Lord Ridley.

October 11, 2020 11:06 am

What the pandemic has taught us about science.
What have we learned? Nothing.
(Depends on who “we” is. Some of us have learned a lot.)

October 11, 2020 11:09 am

Much of the problem is the press. Often they will simply not inform the public of real scientific papers that challenge the leftist agenda. They blindly agree with Fauci and play down what happened in Sweden. Also the fact that Fauci played down human to human transmission early on was not reported enough in the press. On this point he was flat out incorrect.

When a new phenomenon like Covid happens people are too quick to jump out and give opinions that are not based on any evidence. It is based to choose your words carefully and prefix what you say with this is your hypothesis instead of stating it as fact.

Reply to  Stevek
October 11, 2020 11:12 am

Meant “it is best”

October 11, 2020 11:36 am

Let me correct the record:

There are MANY ways to do science. Feynman’s method is one variation. There is observation, there is experimentation, there is quantitative and non-quantitative, there are hypothesis-based and multiple-working-hypotheses or no hypothesis, there is modeling, and probably another half a dozen more philosophies/methods I haven’t listed. There is the preponderance-of-evidence method that is common in environmental and climate sciences.

Feynman’s version elevates falsification as a central tenant. That is not as common of a philosophy as one might think. In fact, falsification is probably a minority practice from what I have seen in 25 years as a professional PhD ecologist.

I saw one comment that climate models aren’t science. LOL.

Reply to  archie
October 11, 2020 12:25 pm

Climate models — like all computer models — are primarily a reflection of the biases of the researcher. With the best will in the world YOU decide the program, YOU decide the parameters, YOU decide the data. You own the result. And sometimes you even say “why should I let you see my working when all you want is to find something wrong with it?”

Not so — I want you to find something wrong with it. Especially I want you to find what is wrong with it when year after year your results are at odds with reality. And more especially when your discipline as a whole eschews observation, ie real world evidence, and pretends that “evidence” is what comes out of the program YOU wrote and ran with YOUR selection of data.

You may call what you do by any name you like but please don’t insult any of the Greats of the last half-millennium by calling it “science”.

James F. Evans
Reply to  archie
October 11, 2020 12:58 pm

archie wrote: “I saw one comment that climate models aren’t science. LOL.”

Climate models are only as good as the observations & measurements that go into the model.

Plus, not only the observations & measurements, themselves, but the “assumptions” that go toward how the physical substances observed & measured will behave. Science simply doesn’t have a good grasp of how those substances (CO2, water vapor, the sun’s rays, ect.) act in the atmosphere.

archie, I suggest your various definitions of the scientific method is too broad.

What you are really talking about are “studies.” There is a distinct difference between hard science and studies. While some areas of ecology lend themselves to hard science, many do not.

Rather, qualitative valuation is often called science when it is not.

Some people refer to studies as ?soft science/” because it depends on the values put on a situation by the individual and society, as a whole.

Hard science does not depend on the values of the individual or society.

Just like 2 + 2 = 4 is independent of whatever the individual or society thinks it should equal.

Reply to  James F. Evans
October 12, 2020 12:28 am

“Just like 2 + 2 = 4 is independent of whatever the individual or society thinks it should equal.”
2&2 can also be seen as 22
88 is two fat ladies
69 is an evening of pleasure
96 is not !

Ray in SC
Reply to  archie
October 11, 2020 3:07 pm

“There is the preponderance-of-evidence method that is common in environmental and climate sciences.”

Archie, your post explains all that is wrong with climate ‘science’. Newminster and James Evans offer good comments on climate models so it is left to me to comment on your assertion that is quoted above.

A ‘preponderance of evidence’ can be no more than the basis for conjecture and in no reasonable sense can it be considered to be science. This is, of course, unless you practice the climate ‘sciences’.

What say you to the question of black swans?

Patrick MJD
Reply to  archie
October 11, 2020 6:14 pm

The statistical models used by Prof. Ferguson, formerly of Imperial College London, the architect of the scare, has had his “modeling” ripped apart and his numbers (Input variables) shown to have been wildly exaggerated.

Anthony Banton
Reply to  Patrick MJD
October 12, 2020 8:32 am

By whom ? (having taken into account the info below, that is) …..

“An epidemiological model developed last March at Imperial College London was treated by politicians as hard evidence that without lockdowns, the pandemic could kill 2.2 million Americans, 510,000 Britons and 96,000 Swedes. The Swedes tested the model against the real world and found it wanting: They decided to forgo a lockdown, and fewer than 6,000 have died there.”

Contrary to Ridley’s deceptive commentary, the 510,000 and 2.2 m dead are WITHOUT MITIGATION.
Also NO mention of Sweden was made in his paper.

There WAS mitigation…….


IN THE (UNLIKELY) ABSENCE of any control measures or spontaneous changes in individual behaviour, we would expect a peak in mortality (daily deaths) to occur after approximately 3 months (Figure 1A). In such scenarios, given an estimated R0 of 2.4, we predict 81% of the GB and US populations would be infected over the course of the epidemic. Epidemic timings are approximate given the limitations of surveillance data in both countries: The epidemic is predicted to be broader in the US than in GB and to peak slight later. This is due to the larger geographic scale of the US, resulting in more distinct localised epidemics across states (Figure 1B) than seen across GB. The higher peak in mortality in GB is due to the smaller size of the country and its older population compared with the US. In total, in an UNMITIGATED epidemic, we would predict approximately 510,000 deaths in GB and 2.2 million in the US, not accounting for the potential negative effects of health systems being overwhelmed on mortality. ” (Capitals mine)

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Anthony Banton
October 12, 2020 6:20 pm

“Anthony Banton October 12, 2020 at 8:32 am

In such scenarios, given an estimated R0 of 2.4…”

Other scientists, academics and statistical modellers who have reviewed Ferguson’s paper have all stated that the estimate of R0 at 2.4 was out by a factor of 12, maybe more. Just like every other one of his predictions (SARDS1, MERS, bird/swine ‘flu, BSE and foot and mouth).

Bruce Cobb
October 11, 2020 11:52 am

The arguments in favor of forcing people to wear masks are disingenuous, at best. The pretense that all water droplets, from the gigantic ones sometimes expelled during a sneeze to the microscpic ones expelled during simple respiration are the same. Oh, and the absurd use of the Precautionary Principle is precious. The Belief in the efficacy of masks is akin to a religious one, and is one based primarily on emotion. I’m reminded of the joke that goes: “My rabbits foot protects YOU”. And people pay lip service to the idea that your mask protects others from you. People believe it protects the wearer as well, though they may not say it. Actions speak louder than words.

October 11, 2020 12:22 pm

And then I read this study that Tokyo May have achieved herd immunity


If true this really is something interesting. Comparatively little death before reaching herd immunity. To me it suggests then strong genetic factors in a population’s mortality rate.

Reply to  Stevek
October 11, 2020 3:08 pm

Cross immunity to other corona viruses across all of Asia is possible.

Reply to  Stevek
October 11, 2020 4:33 pm

Their inpatient and outpatient treatments are probably better, which likely keeps patients from progressing to serious disease. Outpatient treatments in the US basically don’t exist, except for some gadfly and maverick doctors who are willing to push the envelope and treat with non-conformist medicines (e.g., HCQ, nebulized budesonide, vitamin C IV).

Ulric Lyons
October 11, 2020 1:31 pm

Mask wearing rules are indiscriminate and arbitrary, they serve no purpose for those who are not infected.

October 11, 2020 4:16 pm

When in Rome…………………! Whether an N95 mask is useful or not, it doesn’t bother me. I put it on to enter a bank or a supermarket & take it off afterwards. So what? Just make the best of it. I wrap my bank card in the mask, so I know I’ve got it with me. There are far more important things to be concerned about, like leaving the wallet at home.

My parents survived WW2, like many millions of others in Britain. They were well educated & they both did their duty as their consciences demanded. They’d be aghast seeing the present vapid, vacuous, ill educated generations, who model their lives on the behaviour of people of little worth, such as dumb celebrities & demo rat politicians.

Now, in the very unlikely event that I were put in total charge, I’d outcromwell Oliver Cromwell, warts & all!!

comment image

It was a debate, a debate! Cackle, cackle, cackle.

October 11, 2020 5:13 pm

Per a CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (July, 2020 ), guess which people got sick with covid more:

1) Always wears a mask, or
2) Never wears a mask.

#1 by an 18-fold margin (108 vs. 6, respectively). Ooof!


Reply to  icisil
October 11, 2020 7:56 pm

Most people said that always wear a mask. You need to compare the case and control groups. On a percentage basis this data suggests that always wearing a mask helps, though probably not significantly.

Reply to  Scissor
October 12, 2020 4:54 am

What the data show is that even if people wear masks they still get sick (or test positive if that’s what they’re referring to). If masks work that’s not supposed to happen. Oh I know, I know … more would have gotten sick without wearing masks, or those that did get sick would have been sicker. No data for that; totally made up; CO2-type rationalizations.

Reply to  icisil
October 12, 2020 4:45 pm

Yes, this and a lot of other data shows that masks are not highly effective. It’s possible they have some benefit though. Maybe they make things worse. I think we’ll know in another 6 months or so as there are some clinical like studies in progress.

October 11, 2020 5:15 pm

Feynman also said:

As long as it’s possible, we should disregard authority whenever the observations disagree with it.


We (scientists) have found it of paramount importance that in order to progress we must recognize the ignorance and leave room for doubt.


Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty–some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain.


…reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.

These four simple statements pretty much cover today’s pseudo-scientific climate, especially as it applies to leftist’s and alarmist’s agendas, such as anthropogenic climate change, supposedly rising sea levels, supposed crop catastrophe, ‘transsexualism’ and gender ‘identity’ issues, the idea of ‘settled science,’ and the general idea (not entirely leftist based) of the effectiveness of covid masking v non-masking, as well as the general idea that ‘experts’ always know more than everybody else.

Patrick MJD
October 11, 2020 6:07 pm

Was there any science at all? As far as I can tell it was all BS statistic modelling and politics.

October 11, 2020 8:30 pm

This is my 8th email to the Alberta Government providing them with more and more evidence to

I called it correctly on 21March2020 – NO COVID-19 LOCKDOWN – Now the World Health Organization (WHO) is finally saying the same thing:
Interview with The World Health Organization’s special envoy on COVID-19 David Navarro, 8October2020
– Article below.

Regards, Allan MacRae, B.A.Sc.(Eng.), M.Eng.

Sweden correctly did not impose the full-Gulag lockdown and had lower death rates than many countries that did lockdown and has now achieved herd immunity. Forget vaccines, all flu’s in history have died because herd immunity was reached.
Covid-19 was a relatively mild flu, only significantly dangerous to the very elderly and infirm. The full-Gulag lockdown was an enormous error (or scam?) that squandered trillions of dollars and harmed billions of low-income people. The lockdown trashed the lives of young people to protect those who were typically in the last months of their lives. It also destroyed millions of businesses worldwide and impoverished their owners. The lockdown also slowed herd immunity such that the Covid-19 virus will apparently survive into the next flu season. The lockdown cure was far worse than the disease – a total FAIL.
The Covid-19 pandemic was over in Canada by end-July2020, when deaths dropped to a very low level – Sweden with NO lockdown followed two weeks later. Watch this video by Ivor Cummins – his Covid-19 conclusions of 8Sep2020 agree with my conclusions of ~21Mar2020, almost 6 months earlier. https://youtu.be/8UvFhIFzaac

Repeating what I published six months ago:
Isolate people over sixty-five and those with poor immune systems and return to business-as-usual for people under sixty-five.
This will allow “herd immunity” to develop much sooner and older people will thus be more protected AND THE ECONOMY WON’T CRASH.

This full-lockdown scenario is especially hurting service sector businesses and their minimum-wage employees – young people are telling me they are “financially under the bus”. The young are being destroyed to protect us over-65’s. A far better solution is to get them back to work and let us oldies keep our distance, and get “herd immunity” established ASAP – in months not years. Then we will all be safe again.
I am an old guy in the higher-risk category – the lockdown did NOT protect me – all it did was hurt young people and low-income people, destroy businesses large and small, trash the economy and extend the life of the Covid-19 virus. Either our governments are incredibly incompetent or deliberately destructive.


BY Ivan Pentchoukov, October 11, 2020
The World Health Organization’s special envoy on COVID-19 has urged world leaders to stop using lockdowns as the primary control method against the spread of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.

“We in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus,” David Nabarro told The Spectator in an interview aired on Oct. 8. “The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganize, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.”

Nabarro pointed to the collateral damage that lockdowns are having worldwide, especially among poorer populations.

“Just look at what’s happened to the tourism industry, for example in the Caribbean or in the Pacific, because people aren’t taking their holidays. Look what’s happened to smallholder farmers all over the world because their markets have got dented. Look what’s happening to poverty levels. It seems that we may well have a doubling of world poverty by next year. Seems that we may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition because children are not getting meals at school and their parents, in poor families, are not able to afford it,” Nabarro said.

“This is a terrible, ghastly global catastrophe, actually,” he said. “And so we really do appeal to all world leaders: Stop using lockdown as your primary control method, develop better systems for doing it, work together and learn from each other, but remember—lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer.

October 12, 2020 1:01 am

If Sweden has achieved herd immunity as you claim, why are cases on the rise?

This rise is in the context of significantly less testing in comparison to the likes of the UK and France.

October 12, 2020 12:52 am

The problem is that people lump together the science that makes everyday things work with the science that is used to justify public policy. One has to be correct or the product will not work, consequently no one will pay for it. The other will only be paid only if the conclusions agree with the paymaster.

October 12, 2020 12:54 am

“They decided to forgo a lockdown, and fewer than 6,000 have died there.”

Sweden did not forgo a lockdown. Some of their lockdown measures were less strict but by and large, many were not.

As the basic premise of your article is wholly incorrect, the rest can be dismissed as gibberish.

Sweden implemented international and domestic travel bans.
They implemented work and study from home.
They implemented restrictions in the hospitality industry, reducing capacity of venues though keeping them open.
They cancelled operations, Gp appointments and other medical appointments.
They banned large events such as concerts, plays, operas, demos, seminars and even smaller events such as pub gigs, of over 50 attendees in all cases, and under 50 attendees as well in many. Even then, distancing was a requirement.
Clubs etc had their meetings banned.
They implemented social distancing both indoor and outdoor.
Sporting events were banned until mid June and are resumed with no spectators.

Etc etc etc
Public transport services were reduced.
Shops and other amenities had limits on capacity.
Older people were told to limit contact and, along with those of severe health concerns, shield.
Confirmed cases need to isolate for seven days.

Richard Williams
October 12, 2020 1:44 am

“ there have been no randomized controlled trials on the wearing of masks to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases”. See “ Masks Don’t Work: A Review of Science Relevant to COVID-19 Social Policy” by Denis Rancourt who describes RCTs.
Relationships of any kind involve risk, trust and care. They require effort whereas it’s easy to dislike and mistrust people and even easier when they wear face coverings and keep their distance. Science may quantify the risk of infection but it can’t mend the damage to strained relationships and to society as a whole.

mike macray
October 12, 2020 9:18 am

…People who won’t accept the findings of climate science won’t accept any other science either…

So true!
But then ‘climate science’ is not a real science, it’s an unsubstantiated belief.


October 12, 2020 2:31 pm

“What the pandemic has taught us about science?”
It is very rarely used, and when it is used, it is often used incorrectly.
E.g. the PCR test method is NOT a diagnostic tool!

Patrick MJD
Reply to  tom0mason
October 12, 2020 6:25 pm

“tom0mason October 12, 2020 at 2:31 pm

E.g. the PCR test method is NOT a diagnostic tool!”

Exactly. People believe the media when they say it tests FOR COVID-19. It does nothing of the sort.

October 12, 2020 9:04 pm

Be careful what you tag as “science”! Calling something “science” doesn’t make it necessarily so! “Climate science” is a good example.

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