Comment Of The Day: “The Pandemic Creates A Classic And Difficult Ethics Conflict, But The Resolution Is Clear, Part II: The Amazing Vanishing Johns Hopkins Study”

Coronavirus_H

If Ethics Alarms has ever had more useful, substantive and valuable Comment of the Day than what Rich in Ct submitted in response to “The Pandemic Creates A Classic And Difficult Ethics Conflict, But The Resolution Is Clear, Part II: The Amazing Vanishing Johns Hopkins Study,” I can’t recall it. I’m going to dispense with my usual introductory remarks to let Rich take over. From here on it’s all him.

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So I watched Dr. Briand’s webinar; it’s only 40 minutes if anyone else wishes to. (Disclaimer, I am not a medical nor public health professional, but neither is Dr. Briand).

I am not convinced by her analysis. I checked her original data sources, and found serious issues. Dr. Briand states that there is no evidence in the data that COVID is causing “excessive deaths”, but a chart I developed from the same data shows hundreds of thousands more deaths in 2020 compared to prior years. While COVID may not be the immediate cause of all these deaths, it appears to be a significant contributing factor.

The first chart in the PDF of the article about her work shows that the relative ages of people who died are consistent week to week from before and through the pandemic. I don’t take any issue with that conclusion. She states in the webinar there is an average of roughly 60K deaths week-to-week; this average seems reasonable.

However, this chart is misleading; while the percentage week-to-week is not changing, the total numbers of deaths do change considerably week-to-week, as I will show in a chart of my own developed from the same data.

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Ethics Hero: Sportswriter Jason Whitlock

Often where we find an Ethics Hero, there is an Ethics Dunce that helped to reveal him. That’s certainly the situation here. In this case, the Ethics Dunce is Shannon Sharpe, the NFL Hall of Fame tight end turned sports commentator, like Whitlock, an African-American.

According to reports, Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy set out to inspire his team with a locker-room stunt stolen from the old prop comic “Gallagher” (whose charms, I admit, always eluded me). McCarthy produced a sledgehammer at a team meeting and smashed numerous watermelons, each with a point. NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero described the scene after the Cowboys won the game (See? It worked!):

“Mike McCarthy gets up and says, ‘Guys, I want to apologize. I don’t think I did a good enough job emphasizing our objectives for the week’ — one of which was to hammer the ball out of [Minnesota running back] Dalvin Cook’s hands. At that point McCarthy pulls out a sledgehammer, not a prop, a full sledgehammer you could knock a wall down with, and someone rolls in a bunch of watermelons.Each one has a different objective written on it McCarthy reads the objective — BAM! — smashes the watermelon. He goes down the row doing this. The players are roaring, McCarthy’s pants are soaked. He finally gets to the watermelon with Dalvin Cook’s picture on it, DeMarcus Lawrence jumps up and goes, ‘I’ve got to get that one.”[McCarthy] hands the sledgehammer to Lawrence, and he smashes that watermelon.”

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Rainy Monday Ethics, 11/30/2020: Statues, Dogs And Lies

Also getting me down, Karen Carpenter songs. As with great movies with O.J. Simpson or Gig Young in them, these are hard to enjoy now, at least for me. One of the most lovely natural voices in pop music history was silenced by the pernicious disease of anorexia, exacerbated by, among others, her brother, her family, and music industry executives, who made Carpenter so self-conscious about her weight and appearance that she slowly starved herself to death before her 33rd birthday. I wish I could hear her sing—and I will do that a lot in the days approaching Christmas—without thinking about that, but I can’t.

1. Proposition: any nation’s historical figures who had the impact on those nations that Margaret Thatcher did in Great Britain over a significant period of time deserve to be memorialized with statues, absent some cataclysmic disqualifying act, like Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal. Even in Nixon’s case, I would support a public memorial to such a historically influential figure.

In the English town of Grantham, where Thatcher grew up, an 11-foot pedestal awaits the arrival next year of a large statue of “the Iron Lady.” Apparently many in Britain, and a large proportion of Gratham’s working class residents, disapprove of Thatcher’s conservative politics and policies, and thus oppose the statue, which will be in immediate danger of toppling the minute it is erected.

Morons. One doesn’t have to personally agree with a historical figure’s position or even admire her to appreciate the impact that figure had. The criteria for memorializing prominent citizens should center on whether future generations need to know who they were and what they did, not whether their achievements and conduct are approved of according to often fleeting political, social and cultural values. Charles Moore, who wrote an authorized biography of Mrs. Thatcher, says, “It’s obvious there should be statues to Britain’s first woman prime minister. But…but…George Floyd! The New York Times’ article on the controversy says that statue toppling has become a world-wide phenomenon since the death of George Floyd. Now that makes sense: one of Great Britain’s most successful and important leaders should be robbed of her legitimate honors because a rogue cop accidentally contributed to the death of a black criminal in Minnesota.

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KABOOM! The Fake U.S. Wuhan Virus Statistics

Apparently the statistics we have been hammered over the head with for months, that have been used to frighten American, close schools, and manipulate Presidential elections, are pure, unadulterated kaka, and, more amazing still, health professionals have known this all along.

KABOOM!

Here is a quote casually thrown into an October Newsweek article about Joe Biden’s attempts to argue the President Trump’s policies have killed people (the bolding is mine):

Biden’s claim doesn’t acknowledge that the U.S. counts coronavirus deaths differently from other countries. Indeed, we are counting deaths differently than we have for any other disease. “The case definition is very simplistic,” Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of Illinois Department of Public Health, explains. “It means, at the time of death, it was a COVID positive diagnosis. That means, that if you were in hospice and had already been given a few weeks to live, and then you also were found to have COVID, that would be counted as a COVID death. It means, technically even if you died of [a] clear alternative cause, but you had COVID at the same time, it’s still listed as a COVID death.”

Believe it or not, it gets worse. I, and many others, have long suspected that the Wuhan virus death totals were inflated this way, for reasons ranging to incompetence and laziness to greed and a deliberate intention to deceive the public. But here was the next brain-bomb (again, the emphasis is mine):

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Comment Of The Day: “Sunday Ethics Insomnia, 11/29/2020: No Wonder I Can’t Sleep!” (Item #2)

Item #2 in this morning’s potpourri was…

2. “Hello, Newman…” According to the Postal Service’s own records, more than 150,000 mail-in ballots were not delivered in time for them to be counted on election day. This is, of course, as I and anyone else who was paying attention expected and predicted, because the USPS is undependable I am surprised that the number was that low.

The US Postal Service is a glaring mass of unethical bureaucracy—incompetent, archaic, irresponsible. Made mostly superfluous by email and private delivery services, it continues to waste taxpayer money while not even doing a good job at what’s left of its original function. The USPS, like lesser boondoggles like NPR and PBS, are kept alive by official laziness and cowardice, plus an unwillingness to solve a problem when that problem has vocal allies. Putting the integrity of a national election in the hands of such an organization was so illogical that it naturally created, and creates, the belief by many that it was a deliberate attempt to create chaos resulting in enough smoke and fog to cover up deliberate mischief.

There, I’m glad that’s off my chest.

Steve Witherspoon’s Comment of the Day begins with the quote above. Here it is, sparked by Item #2 of the post, Sunday Ethics Insomnia, 11/29/2020: No Wonder I Can’t Sleep!:

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List Ethics Case Study: “The 25 Greatest Actors Of The 21st Century (So Far)”

Lists are fun (that’s why “The Book of Lists” was a runaway best seller); they also drive me crazy. Unless the lists are based on incontrovertible statistics and identifiable features (American League batting champions since 1900; states that begin with the letter “N”) they are essentially a stranger’s arbitrary opinions misrepresenting themselves as facts. I’ve posted about this a couple of times, first in 2011. That one concluded (in part), “I know these lists are all intended in good fun. When one is dealing with history, however, fun doesn’t excuse advancing misinformation at the cost of enlightenment.”

The list in question today involves subjective aesthetic judgments, not history, but it still has ethical problems. It was compiled by the New Your Times film critics—you know: experts!”—and purports to show us the “25 greatest actors of the 21st Century (so far).” That’s a lie. I guarantee that the authors themselves do not believe these are the 25 greatest actors by any standards.

Let’s look at the list:

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Sunday Ethics Insomnia, 11/29/2020: No Wonder I Can’t Sleep!

1. I hate 99.9% of the petitions offered at Change.org. but I’m signing this one . It reads,

Professor Dorian Abbot, a tenured faculty member in the Department of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago, has recently come under attack from students and postdocs for a series of videos he posted to YouTube expressing his reservations about the way Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts have been discussed and implemented on campus.
In these videos Prof. Abbot raised several misgivings about DEI efforts and expressed concern that a climate of fear is “making it extremely difficult for people with dissenting viewpoints to voice their opinions.” The slides for each of Prof. Abbot’s videos can be found here, and his own account of events and his opinions can be found here. Nowhere in these materials does Prof. Abbot offer any opinion that a reasonable observer would consider to be hateful or otherwise offensive.

Shortly after uploading the videos, Abbot’s concerns were confirmed when 58 students and postdocs of the Department of Geophysical Sciences, and 71 other graduate students and postdocs from other University of Chicago departments, posted a letter containing the claim that Prof. Abbot’s opinions “threaten the safety and belonging of all underrepresented groups within the [Geophysical Sciences] department” and “represent an aggressive act” towards research and teaching communities.

[Pointer: Pennagain]

2. “Hello, Newman...” According to the Postal Service’s own records, more than 150,000 mail-in ballots were not delivered in time for them to be counted on election day. This is, of course, as I and anyone else who was paying attention expected and predicted, because the USPS is undependable

I am surprised that the number was that low.

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From The Ethics Alarms Archives: “Cool It”

Ruined Lincoln momument

As I promised as a follow-up to the linked post from Frontline, here, from the Ethics Alarms archives, is a post I wrote on March, 23, 2010. It had just two comments, but then fewer than 200 people have ever read it, according to my blog’s statistics. I guess that means it’s all my fault: if I had just been prominent and successful enough to justify anyone paying attention to what I wrote, maybe the last decade’s rot could have been averted.

I guess we’ll never know.

“Sigh.”

At least the old post can serve a purpose now, as perspective, or perhaps to remind us that we really have no excuse if our marvelous experiment is brought down by hate and dead ethics alarms.

It was all there to see long ago, and there was plenty of time to stop it. All it took was leadership.

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COOL IT

To listen to the conservative talk radio circuit and read the Right’s wing of the blogosphere, one would think that the United States is in the midst of a coup right out of “Seven Days in May,” or a foreign take-over like the one portrayed in “Red Dawn,” or even an alien infestation by disguised lizards, as in the sci-fi mini-series “V.” Hysteria is everywhere. Dark threats of revolution are not being whispered, but shouted. “I really think civil war is inevitable,” one blogger wrote yesterday….

Cool the rhetoric, guys. This is irresponsible, and completely unwarranted. It is also dangerous, because it takes what is at its core a principled disagreement about national policies and recasts it as a sinister plot. If Republicans and conservatives really think this is the way to regain power, they are both wrong and deranged. This is destroying the country to save it.

I know, I know. The Angry Left paved the way for this kind of toxic distrust. For eight years it shouted that the Bush administration was some kind of evil empire run by evil geniuses (but stupid evil geniuses) that gleefully stole two elections, engineered a fake terrorist attack to take away our rights and a fake war to enrich their oil baron pals, and intentionally let New Orleans suffer because, you know, they all hated black people.

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2020 Election Ethics Train Wreck Update: Ethics Zugzwang In Pennsylvania

pennsylvania-scaled

[Let me begin by apologizing for being so inconsistent in my spelling of zugzwang (or zugswang). Both are acceptable, but I should pick one, and I’m picking zugzswang, because it will score more points in Scrabble. I will eventually go back and change the many “zugswangs” in previous posts.]

Oh-oh.

A Pennsylvania state court judge yesterday issued a preliminary injunction preventing Pennsylvania from taking any further steps to certify the election, including the assignment of 20 electoral votes to Joe Biden,pending further court hearings and rulings. The ruling upholds an injunction from earlier in the week.

The opinion is here. The issue is whether legislative expansion of absentee balloting to universal mail-in balloting violated the Pennsylvania Constitution. (It sure looks like it to me.) The petitioners seek to preclude the Secretary of State from transmitting the certification or otherwise perfecting the electoral college selections.

Here is the judge’s description of the claim:

In the Petition, Petitioners allege that the Act of October 31, 2019, P.L. 552, No. 77 (Act 77), which added and amended various absentee and mail-in voting provisions in the Pennsylvania Election Code (Election Code),1 is unconstitutional and void ab initio because it purportedly contravenes the requirements of the Pennsylvania Constitution. Petitioners allege that Article VII, section 14 of the Pennsylvania Constitution provides two exclusive mechanisms by which a qualified elector may cast his or her vote in an election: (1) by submitting his or her vote in propria persona at the polling place on election day; and (2) by submitting an absentee ballot, but only if the qualified voter satisfies the conditions precedent to meet the requirements of one of the four, limited exclusive circumstances under which absentee voting is authorized under the Pennsylvania constitution. (Petition, ¶16.) Petitioners allege that mail-in voting in the form implemented through Act 77 is an attempt by the legislature to fundamentally overhaul the Pennsylvania voting system and permit universal, no-excuse, mail-in voting absent any constitutional authority. Id., ¶17. Petitioners argue that in order to amend the Constitution, mandatory procedural requirements must be strictly followed. Specifically, pursuant to Article XI, Section 1, a proposed constitutional amendment must be approved by a majority vote of the members of both the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate in two consecutive legislative sessions, then the proposed amendment must be published for three months ahead of the next general election in two newspapers in each county, and finally it must be submitted to the qualified electors as a ballot question in the next general election and approved by a majority of those voting on the amendment. According to Petitioners, the legislature did not follow the necessary procedures for amending the Constitution before enacting Act 77 which created a new category of mail-in voting; therefore, the mail-in ballot scheme under Act 77 is unconstitutional on its face and must be struck down. Id., ¶¶27, 35-37. As relief, Petitioners seek, inter alia, a declaration and/or injunction that prohibits Respondents from certifying the November 2020 General Election results, which include mail-in ballots that are permitted on a statewide basis and are allegedlyimproper because Act 77 is unconstitutional.

The Judge found that the plaintiffs were likely to prevail on their state constitutional claims…

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The Pandemic Creates A Classic And Difficult Ethics Conflict, But The Resolution Is Clear, Part II: The Amazing Vanishing Johns Hopkins Study [Corrected]

open-up-protest

Update and Introduction

The record shows that way back on May 5, Ethics Alarms published the post titled “The Pandemic Creates A Classic And Difficult Ethics Conflict, But The Resolution Is Clear, Part I: Stipulations.” That resolution was that the lockdown was wrong, indeed tragically wrong, and that a clear-eyed, unbiased examination of the facts made that conclusion inescapable. This, I note again, was in May. Nobody believed that we would still be strangling American society, commerce, education, culture and life as December approached.

I knew the analysis had to be lengthy, so it was planned as a two part post. One reason for this was that the information, data and scientific analysis was contradictory and still coming in as I began the post, and I needed time to review and sort it all out before beginning Part II. Incredibly, after seven months, the information, data and scientific analysis is still contradictory and still coming in. It is also, as this most recent episode demonstrates, still being unethically manipulated to mislead the American public. This is happening even now, after the election, although much of the manipulation of facts was designed and executed by the Axis of Unethical Conduct—Democrats, the “resistance” and the mainstream media– to derail the Trump Presidency, and ensure his defeat on November 3. (Congratulations, by the way! It worked!)

In Part I, I listed ten stipulations that drove my analysis. I assumed, being a fallible human being, that some would prove mistaken; I definitely assumed that some of them would no longer be accurate by now. I was wrong. Here are the ten:

  1. This is an ethics conflict, not an ethics dilemma.
  2. Many, too many, of those involved in the problem are going to approach it as an ethics dilemma…
  3. It is a cruel trick of fate…that this crisis is occurring in an election year…
  4. We still do not have adequate information to make a fully informed decision.
  5. Making important decisions without perfect information is what effective leaders have to do.
  6. No one can rely on “experts.”
  7. Experts have the biases of their own field and its priorities.
  8. The projections and models have been wrong more often than not, but are still being hyped as a valid basis for planning.
  9. The news media has politicized the lock-down, and most of it is actively lobbying for the lock-down to continue.
  10. We have to accept that the ethical system we have to employ here is Utilitarianism, the most brutal of them all.

As you can see, these haven’t changed.

While waiting for both some more definitive data and the time to do a competent analysis before completing Part 2, I posted a Prelude to Part 2. the next day, on May 8, the date Nazi Germany surrendered. It was a thorough fisking of a New York Time op-ed that perfectly represented the AUC’s arrogant and dead wrong attitude toward the pandemic, and that also pointed to the sinister un-American and totalitarian-leanings underlying the Left’s enthusiastic embrace of the lockdown and its consequences. The last paragraph of the “Prelude” pointed the way to what would be (and will be) the principle underlying the conclusion of the argument I started to unpack in May:

Freedom has always had a price. On this 75th Anniversary of V-E Day, it shouldn’t be hard to understand that lost lives aren’t acceptable just because the most rational, responsible policies involve unavoidable risk.

As attentive readers noticed, Part 2 never appeared. (Kudos to long-time commenter Michael Ejercito for repeatedly chiding me on this.) I have been constantly revising a draft, changing directions many times as new data arrived, followed by newer hype and distortions. Then came the Johns Hopkins report, the discussion of which today becomes Part 2, because it is a “smoking gun.”

And that means that what was Part 2 is now Part 3, still in progress, but I promise, Michael, coming soon.

Now here’s the post….

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