Follow-Up From The Ethics Alarms “I Don’t Understand This At All” And “Wuhan Virus Ethics Train Wreck” Files: Why Are We Allowing This To Continue?

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Minnesota state Representative Mary Franson and Senator Scott Jensen (who is a physician) collected 2800 death certificates provided by the Minnesota Department of Health, checking to see if alleged Wuhan virus deaths were being over-counted. (Well, anyone who sees the obituaries of 95-year-olds and 103-year-olds who are called pandemic victims knows they are being over-counted. Ethics Alarms has noted this tool of the hysterics, nascent totalitarians and fearmongers before.) Jensen had earlier pointed out that hospitals had financials incentives to use the pandemic as a default cause of death.

Jensen explains that while one would typically look to the “UCOD” or “Underlying Cause Of Death” for classification purposes rather than the “immediate” cause or the “intermediate” causes. The practice the CDC had always required in classifying deaths was to use the UCOD.

But for the Wuhan virus, the CDC practice of 17 years was changed, and physicians were told, “If someone had the pandemic virus, it doesn’t matter if it was actually the diagnosis that caused death. If someone had the virus, they died of it.” Stroke? Multi-organ failure? If the deceased tested positive for the Wahun virus, that was the cause of death. Franson and Jensen uncovered examples where victims of a fall were called pandemic casualties. Drowning victims. One “Covid 19” victim died after being thrown from a speeding automobile. About 800 of the 2,800 death certificates examined indicated that the virus was not the underlying cause of death. That’s a 40% overstatement.

It isn’t just Minnesota that’s doing this, either. It’s every state, and the whole country.

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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”

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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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Election 2020: The Appearance Of Impropriety Or Real Impropriety? Part II, An Accountant’s Analysis

Larry Correia, a perceptive blogger who approaches issues with the mind of a veteran accountant and auditor, has concluded regarding the 2020 election that “Fuckery is Afoot.” In a 3000+ word post, Correia (whose tart and blunt analysis I last featured here), begins,

I am more offended by how ham-fisted, clumsy, and audacious the fraud to elect him is than the idea of Joe Biden being president…. However, what is potentially fatal for America is half the populace believing that their elections are hopelessly rigged, and they’re eternally fucked. And now, however this shakes out in court, that’s exactly what half the country is going to think.  …In auditing you look for red flags. That’s weird bits in the data that suggest something shifty is going on. You flag those weird things so you can delve into them further. One flag doesn’t necessarily mean there’s fraud. Weird things happen. A few flags mean stupidity or dishonesty. But a giant pile of red flags means that there’s bad shit going on and people should be in jail.

Here are just some of the “red flags” that Correia identifies…

  • The massive turn out alone is a red flag.
  • The late-night spikes that were enough to close all the Trump leads are a red flag.
  • The statistically impossible breakdown of the ratios of these vote dumps is a red flag.
  • The ratios of these dumps being far better than the percentages in the bluest of blue cities, even though the historical data does not match, red flag.
  • The ratios of these vote dumps favoring Biden more in these few battlegrounds than the ratio for the rest of the country (even the bluest of the blue) red flag.
  • Biden outperforming Obama among these few urban vote dumps, even though Trump picked up points in every demographic group in the rest of the country, red flag.
  • The poll observers being removed. Red flag.
  • The counters cheering as GOP observers are removed, red flag.
  • The fact that the dem observers outnumber the GOP observers 3 to 1, red flag (and basis of the first lawsuit filed)The electioneering at the polls (on video), red flag.
  • The willful violation of the court order requiring the separation of ballots by type, red flag.
  • [The] USPS whistleblower reporting to the Inspector General that today they were ordered to backdate ballots to yesterday, red flag.
  • The video of 2 AM deliveries of what appear to be boxes of ballots with no chain of custody or other observers right before the late night miracle spikes, red flag.

Any of those things would be enough to trigger an audit in the normal world.This many flags and I’d be giggling in anticipation of catching some thieves…This is going to the courts.

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Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/30/2020: Fact Checks, Fear-Mongering, The Emmys, And Another Cancellation” (Item #2)

The game-playing and misrepresentations regarding police shooting data, particularly by the news media, are driving me bonkers, as I assume, yu as well.

Addressing the issue  is Chris Marschner’s in his Comment of the Day on the post, “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/30/2020: Fact Checks, Fear-Mongering, The Emmys, And Another Cancellation”:

What the researchers using Baysian models fail to control for – or at least fail to show how they controlled for it – is the behavior of the individual shot prior to the being killed. If unarmed whites, according to Critical Race Theory as shown in several documents presented earlier, are assumed to acquiesce to persons of authority while Black arrestees are more likely to resist such authority it stands to reason that opportunities for police involved shootings among blacks will rise.

There is a reason that marketers who rely on statistical probabilities to assess likelihood of consumer behaviors evaluate consumer groups by age, race, gender and other demographic factors. They place different values on things that affect their decisions. I can say that blacks disproportionately purchase more rap recordings than whites. Comparisons of third party interactions with different demographic groups must control for how each group views and reacts to the third party (police).

The very same statistics will show that young blacks and whites are shot far more often than people of their own race that are more than twenty years older than they. Furthermore, just how many females of any race are shot by police in any given year? Maybe the focus should be not black lives but male lives.

Statistics are nothing more than a means to try to understand relationships and perhaps provide some predictive value. Unless you hold constant the variable of participants precipitation behavior constant none of this has significant value. In this research their specious accuracy of the data is quite telling given that they pretend that all persons behave identically in the same situations and all situations are identical.

I am no statistician but I worked with inmates at the three prisons in Hagerstown for five years so I have some understanding to what younger black males respond positively and negatively. What is interesting is that part of the BLM movement’s platform is to destroy the nuclear family construct. That has been going on for years with government policy. Young black, and white, males respond positively to people that give them an opportunity to open up and vent a bit without having to worry about what others will say. Even those with the perpetual chip on their shoulder appreciate the opportunity to not have to carry the weight of projecting the persona of being a bad ass among his peers.

Most of these young males white and black have never been held to account for themselves. They have grown up in matriarchal homes as a result of social service policies and that momma has found that multiple men can augment the family income better than one. Within these homes these kids are resource drains. They grow up learning that being a man is about siring children and demonstrating a distorted view of masculinity. The foregoing is information that was shared by inmates in casual conversations I would “arrange” so it did not appear to be an official interview to which they had to be on guard..

The following is my assessment of what I learned from them and is only my conjecture. Continue reading

From The “Don’t Confuse Us With Facts, Our Minds Are Made Up!” Files: A 19-Year-Old Sikh Immigrant Rebuts “Systemic Racism”

His argument deserves a debate. So far, the strategy has been to ignore him.

The conservative New York tabloid, the New York Post, published an opinion piece  last Sunday with the headline “The Fallacy of White Privilege.” The author was Rav Arora,  a 19-year-old Sikh immigrant, brought by his parents to Canada from India at the age of 4. “[M]y family suffered tremendous economic hardships and cultural challenges,” he wrote. “My father drove a taxi at night and my mom worked many menial jobs as a cook, housecleaner, barista and motel cleaner.” Ultimately, he says, the family escaped poverty to become successful and financially secure. Rav himself is obviously well-educated and adept at critical thinking.

He writes in part,

Rising from poverty to economic prosperity is a common narrative for immigrants from all backgrounds in the West. For example, after the communist takeover of Cuba in 1959, many refugees fled to America, leaving most of their wealth behind and having to start from the bottom. But by 1990, second-generation Cuban Americans were twice as likely to earn an annual salary of $50,000 than non-Hispanic whites in the United States. The notion of white privilege stems from the idea that white people have benefited in American history relative to “people of color”…[but]  the concept of white privilege can’t explain why several historically marginalized groups out-perform whites today.

In the rest of his essay,  Arora uses  government statistics to cast doubt on the “white privilege” narrative. For example,

“[T]he concept of white privilege can’t explain why several historically marginalized groups out-perform whites today. Take Japanese Americans, for example: For nearly four decades in the 20th century (1913 – 1952), this group was legally prevented from owning land and property in over a dozen American states. Moreover, 120,000 Japanese Americans were interned during World War II. But by 1959, the income disparity between Japanese Americans and white Americans nearly vanished. Today, Japanese Americans outperform whites by large margins in income statistics, education outcomes, test scores and incarceration rates.”

Asian-Americans in general undermine the “white supremacy” narrative, so they are conveniently stuffed into the “POC” category as activists hope nobody asks embarrassing questions.

“According to median household income statistics from the US Census Bureau, several minority groups substantially out-earn whites. These groups include Pakistani Americans, Lebanese Americans, South African Americans, Filipino Americans, Sri Lankan Americans and Iranian Americans (in addition to several others). Indians, the group I belong to, are the highest-earning ethnic group the census keeps track of, with almost double the household median income of whites.”

Gee, that’s interesting! Why isn’t Arora being featured on today’s talking head shows, as panels of experts huminahumina* attempted explanations about why this doesn’t explode the whole white privilege narrative? I’m not saying they couldn’t show his argument is flawed. I’m asking why they won’t try.

“[S]everal black immigrant groups such as Nigerians, Barbadians, Ghanaians and Trinidadians & Tobagonians have a median household income well above the American average. Ghanian Americans, to take one example, earn more than several specific white groups such as Dutch Americans, French Americans, Polish Americans, British Americans and Russian Americans. Do Ghanaians have some kind of sub-Saharan African privilege?”

In one of my periodic enlightening conversations with immigrant cab drivers, a loquacious cabbie from Africa told me, unsolicited, “There’s no prejudice in the country against blacks. There’s a prejudice against native American blacks. I always feel respected here. I think it is my accent and my work habits.”

“[S]uicide rates are disproportionately high among the white population. In 2018, whites had the highest suicide rate of 16.03 per 100,000. The New York Times has reported that whites are dying faster than they are being born in a majority of US states — in large part due to high rates of substance abuse and suicide. In comparison, black Americans had a suicide rate less than half of whites (6.96). . . .”

To this he adds,

“If we look at health outcomes reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we find that African Americans are less likely than whites to die of several health conditions such as bladder cancer, leukemia, esophageal cancer, lung cancer, . . . brain cancer and skin cancer, to take a few arbitrary examples. But no one in their right mind would protest any ‘health privilege’ enjoyed by African Americans in these instances.”

There is more. It’s a brave and provocative piece. Too bad the people who need to read it won’t.

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* I’m going to add “huminahumina” to the  Concepts and Special Terms list. It refers to what poor, perpetual screw-up Ralph Kramden (played by Jackie Gleason) would babble incoherently when he was caught, as he often was, in a lie or an embarrassing situation that he couldn’t talk his way out of, on the old TV sitcom, “The Honeymooners.” (It is often, and incorrectly, referred to as “hominahomina.”)

Today, it was used as a verb.

Comment Of The Day: “Mid-Day Ethics Stimulus, 3/31/2020: Dunces, Heroes, Hacks And More”

Veteran commenter Michael  Erjecito’s comment on another post about the pandemic included the line, “When this emergency ends, we will give back all powers, without exception.” Chris Marschner used that statement as his departure point in this Comment of the Day on a separate EA post, Item #4 under the title above, which involved Governor Ralph Northam’s “order” restricting the freedoms of  Virginians. Since I had started a post on the topic of draconian government restrictions that are Constitutionally questionable, I was grateful to see Chris had attacked it with his usual verve.

Here is Chris Marschner’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Mid-Day Ethics Stimulus, 3/31/2020: Dunces, Heroes, Hacks And More”:

I am beginning to believe this event is a government dress rehearsal for a much more draconian event later on. One must test the limits of what the public is willing to endure from governmental decrees lest we see the people charging the statehouses with torches and pitchforks.

Ok, enough of my melodrama. But the quote above is indicative of the risk of a different type of loss well after this virus disappears.

I keep hearing that Trump ignores science or that he relies on hunches and not data to make quality decisions. Well at 8 pm yesterday, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) issued the stay at home order or face fines of $5,000 and/or a year in jail. In that decree, there is absolutely no mention as to the scientific data that he used to trigger the order and thus there is no data to indicate when he would lift the order.

 There is also no specific data-driven rationale for a Stay At Home order when all types of recreational activities are allowed as long as they are in groups of 10 or fewer. How exactly does the data suggest that grocery stores filled with hundreds of people crowding the aisles will cause less of a problem than a non-essential service like a mom and pop jewelry store or a scuba shop that usually have fewer than 10 people in it any given time? Why is it that the data supports Home Depot and Walmart being allowed to sell non-essential goods because they are allowed to stay open because they offer other essential goods such as repair items, food, and medicine but a comic book bike shop or video-store must shutter its business?

My point is that for all the claims that decisions are data driven I would wager most decisions are driven by political calculus not necessarily on epidemiological considerations.

Furthermore, if we are to use data to drive decisions, that data must be understood by all in order to ensure that the people subject to the restrictions imposed will know if the government is abusing its governing powers. The terms of these orders should spell out specifically the triggers that cause regulatory restrictions and when those restrictions MUST be rescinded; these restrictions cannot be open ended and without definition.

The only data that we hear is the 2.2 million deaths that could have occurred had nothing been done, and Dr. Fauci’s equivocating statement that maybe as many as 200,000 might die – but don’t hold him to that—and, the ongoing death watch clocks prominently displayed on all the network news shows and web search engines. We never hear why this decision is made or why we are not doing something that some believe might be helpful. Tell me: are the anti-malarial drugs something to be considered as a treatment or a prophylaxes; neither or both? I suppose drugs are worthwhile and can be used off label with some effectiveness so long as they are not suggested by Donald Trump.

We cannot use infection growth rates as growth rates as a trigger because they may be much higher initially with low absolute numbers. Going from 10 cases to 30 cases an increase of 20 cases is a 300% increase but going from 100 cases to 120 cases is only a 20% increase. Then the issue is where are the cases occurring? Should a county with few infections be subject to the same restrictions as a highly populated hot spot?

I do wish the media would stop confusing the public by switching between growth rates, absolute numbers and per capita values. When the press states that on a per capita basis the US lags other nations in testing, that suggests we are not doing enough even if we have tested three times the amount of others. Growth rates don’t mean beans if you don’t have a basis from which to measure. Growth rates and absolute values must be used in tandem to make them meaningful.

Many in the media and some within our commentariat believe there has been an abysmal failure at the federal level to adequately plan for such a pandemic. NO, the Governors and legislatures of the respective states have been an abysmal failure at preparing for such an emergency. In my state, Maryland, we have the Office of Emergency Preparedness.  (https://preparedness.health.maryland.gov/Pages/About.aspx)

How prepared is Maryland Governor Hogan?

On the Resources page there is not one mention of the Covid-19 virus under infectious threats. We are still mentioning Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Ebola, and Zika but all is quiet on the Chinese Flu front.

Is the reference to MERS a bigoted and racist term? I did not consider the others to have racist connotations because how many Americans know Ebola is named after a river in the sub-Saharan Africa and the others after other places in Africa. Our governor seems to be at odds with his own departments. We are prepared for any eventuality according to our state team. They say so!

https://preparedness.health.maryland.gov/Pages/Resources.aspx:

IS THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH PREPARED? Yes! The Department of Health Office of Preparedness and Response prepares in a variety of ways:

• Maryland Influenza Plan and Pandemic Influenza Plan
• Pandemic influenza exercises for emergency personnel
• Partnering with local, state, federal, and private agencies to prepare for, prevent, and lessen the impact of a flu pandemic
• Maintaining a stockpile of antiviral medications and medical supplies ( WHERE ARE THEY?????)

From their web pages we find that their preparedness program is merely a funnel for federal funds.

The mission of the Hospital Preparedness Program is to support and enhance the ability of hospitals and health care systems to provide effective care and save lives during emergencies. The Office of Preparedness and Response receives annual federal funding to advance these goals and objectives. The Maryland Department of Health awards these funds in the form of grants to our health care system partners across the state (including hospitals, free-standing emergency departments, emergency medical services, community health centers, and home care and hospice agencies). Health care system partners utilize the Hospital Preparedness Program funds to enhance their ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies that pose a threat to the health and safety of the community. Continue reading

Six Ethics Lessons As Bill James Falls Into His Own Research Trap

Baseball philosopher, iconoclast and analyst Bill James is one of my heroes for his amazing ability to look past conventional wisdom with an open mind. Beginning as essentially a self-published pamphleteer writing out of his basement, James’ counter-traditional explorations of baseball statistics eventually changed how baseball was watched, assessed, scouted and played, simply on the strength of Bill’s  ideas and his facility in explaining them.

His talents could be used in many other fields–James has recently branched out into examining famous unsolved murders—but it is also true that many of the ideas he has developed in relation to baseball have wider applications. For example, James was the source of the concept of “signature significance,” which is a staple here at Ethics Alarms.

His writing also taught me that bias makes us stupid, and about the insidious power of rationalizations.  Many of James’s observations seemed intrinsically obvious once he made and explained them, and the fact that  baseball executives, writers and players could have been so wrong about their own game for so long seemed incomprehensible. But the reasons were what they always are, in all fields. People are biased toward what they have always believed —confirmation bias–and the “It’s always been this way” variation on the most powerful rationalization of them all, “Everybody does it”  breeds blindness and  intellectual laziness. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Comment Of The Day, From The Epic Commenter Donnybrook In This Week’s Open Forum”

The other primary combatant in the comment donnybrook referred to in the title (Humble Talent was the one noted in the previous COTD post) was Steve Witherspoon. In his Comment of the Day he references the crux of the dispute without actually referencing the dispute itself. His ever-green topic: the misuse of statistics:

Here is another reason that I dislike the use, or better yet the misuse/abuse, of statistics.

As we all likely know banks are routinely audited by outside sources to check for accuracy. Yesterday I got a piece of mail from a company that I’ve never done business with and I’ve never heard of. The mail was sent from a non local city that I wouldn’t be expecting mail from because I don’t know anyone who lives there and I don’t do business with any company from there. I opened it and found a single piece (3½” X 8½”) of paper with the printed logos from our local bank and the following statement on the top…

“Our Auditors have selected the following account for verification. Please review the information shown below and furnish details of any discrepancy to: [company name and address]. If information is correct, no action is needed.”

Then the paper included our home mortgage account number, interest rate, maturity date, and current balance as of a specific date that was mid month between payments. I read it a couple of times to confirm what I read, then I looked at my wife and said “These people are idiots.” Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Neil deGrasse Tyson (Again) [Repaired]

I think the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, which recently allowed pop scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson to continue in his job after credible allegations of sexual harassment, might want to reconsider. Not because Tyson is a harasser, but because he is an arrogant jerk with the ethical instincts of a lemur, who doesn’t think before he tweets, or presumably, speaks.  The tweet above is smoking gun.

When you start sounding like Michael Moore—you may recall that Moore made similar comparisons to minimize the significance of the 9-11 attacks, which he couldn’t understand why everyone was all bent out of shape over—it’s time to start checking out the used-brain market. Tyson’s tweet is literally the “Comparative Virtue Excuse,” Rationalization. #22, the worst of the worst. He is arguing that the Dayton and El Paso massacres really aren’t so bad when you consider other deaths. If he’s this stupid, the Planetarium needs to start running help wanted ads. Continue reading

We Probably Had A Gay President, But Not For The Reason Pete Buttigieg Says [UPDATED]

Democratic Party Presidential contender Pete Buttigieg is supposed to be brilliant, but when people who are supposed to be brilliant say dumb things in public, I suspect two things: either they aren’t as smart as  we thought, or they are deliberately trying to make the public more stupid than it is.

Buttigieg, who is trying to become the first openly gay Presidential nominee of a major party, told “Axios on HBO” over the weekend, arguing that his characteristics were not electoral handicaps,

“People will elect the person who will make the best president. And we have had excellent presidents who have been young. We have had excellent presidents who have been liberal. I would imagine we’ve probably had excellent presidents who were gay — we just didn’t know which ones. Statistically, it’s almost certain.”

Ugh.

1. Buttigieg’s party has spent three years arguing that the people elected a President who is unfit for office, mostly because those who voted fro him are racist, sexist idiots. Will someone ask him during the debates how he reconciles his party’s position with his statement?

2. We’ve had excellent Presidents who were “young,” but none nearly as young as Buttigieg. JFK was the youngest elected President, at 43. Pete is a full six years younger than that. This is deliberate obfuscation for the historically challenged.

3. Even if Buttigeig were correct about some of the Presidents being gay, it doesn’t have any relevance to whether an openly gay candidate can get elected. Doesn’t Buttigieg know this (See above: he’s either making a stupid argument or a dishonest one.) A similar situation exists regarding Presidential faith. Officially, all Presidents believed in God; it is highly doubtful that this was true in reality, however. Nonetheless, even today a professed atheist would have a difficult time getting elected. Continue reading