The model Dr. Fauci has been relying on for guidance is just spewing nonsense now. It’s giving absurd ranges for deaths, hospitalizations, and resources needed… And that’s for a prediction range that is only 24 hours out. Like, they can’t even reasonably tell you what’s going to happen tomorrow. What’s the point of continuing to produce such a model at all, except some mega-billionaire is bankrolling you and you have to deliver something.
Bill Gates’ team has responded by decreasing the frequency with which they are publishing results. Now that we have supposedly reached the peak, they are downsizing to three times a week. The data is clearly bogus, but if you give people less data to scrutinize, you might be okay?
And for their part, platforms like Medium and Twitter are doing their best to electronically censor any criticism. You must obey the broken models, because we wouldn’t want any misinformation getting out there.
I’ve reached a high level of discomfort with the Trump administration continuing to pay homage to a group of people (Fauci especially) who clearly have zero value from a quantitative sense.
Shit like this is why you don’t build cults of personality. And it’s a big problem with Trump’s approach to governance. Once he turns someone into a household name with his unrelenting marketing machine, we can’t freaking get rid of them, even when they are more destructive than they are helpful.
Absolutely nothing that Bill Gates’ money touches should be allowed to influence public policy. He’s broken education, health care, and the economy indirectly. The dude needs to start spending his billions on hookers and blow like a normal rich guy and leave public policy alone. What’s funny is, this model was regarded as the “optimistic” one versus the raging nut job at Imperial.
At some point, I think folks in power need to seriously consider that the virus has been in the United States much longer than these particular epidemiologists estimated (others violently disagree with them), and that we’ve already crushed the curve with herd immunity, not extreme social distancing (which was baked into the model’s assumptions, therefore can’t be the reason why it is broken, though Fauci is delighted you can’t figure that out on your own). In fact, it’s unclear if many governments even know what social distancing is anymore.
People are hiding from an illness that statistically they have likely already been exposed to, and the financial sacrifices our country has made and will continue to make are for squat. This is a very big deal, because the people leading the country right now have seized upon an intellectual approach where they cannot even fathom an exit strategy. If it’s left up to Fauci, everyone is going to be locked in their houses until a vaccine is produced and delivered to every single American. We’ll be living in huts by the time that happens.
I have been thinking a lot about how the Trump administration has handled this situation, and I think their biggest mistakes have been (1) having an Obama-era “czar” who has not met a television booking he doesn’t love running the show, rather than calling on a body of people with diverse opinions and deciding what is the strongest, and (2) relying only on one model with extreme confirmation bias for anything.
When I worked with a team that was responsible for generating and vetting models of revenue for a large government, we never relied on one model. We used a variety of models with different approaches and blended their forecasts. The track record for forecasting was spot-on, even in the middle of the 2008 financial crisis when predicting anything seemed impossible. You don’t put your eggs all in one basket, as they say.
The Trump team went for pure doom, ignoring top-notch scientists around the world who were trying to be the voice of reason. And now they are flying at breakneck speed without a compass because the source of information they’ve been using is worthless because it came from a source with a political agenda.
There’s no other way to characterize that than to say it is a bad management decision that ultimately resides with Trump. But beyond that, it’s been kind of revealing how back-of-the-envelope everything is with the federal government. Forget Trump, how did the government agencies responsible for making decisions like this not have a solid protocol in place? This is like us going to war with a country and the CIA saying, well, I guess we should send some spies over there in the future. What? We are making these decisions totally blind? What’s the purpose of even having a “permanent government” if these are the outcomes?
I understand the fears people have with the utilitarian approach to governance (the interests of the many outweigh the interests of the few). Especially people who have been living on a diet of anecdotal evidence through this whole thing. “But this is an issue of life and death! This is not a normal policy decision.”
Actually, it is a normal policy decision.
You’d be surprised how many “normal” policy debates amount to “life and death” questions. In fact, the economic carnage from this event is going to produce a lot of them. When your tax revenues collapse because you arbitrarily killed your local economy, do you save education and cut Medicaid? Because that’s a good way to decrease the life expectancy of vulnerable populations. Do you save public pensions or cut grants for cancer research? Do you keep putting money into funds for high-risk groups or lay off most of your staff? Governments deal with this stuff all the time. But unless that program is something that directly impacts you or someone you love, you probably have never given it a second thought.
What stands out about this particular government response is the absurdity of it all. They took health care issue and then decided to turn it into an economic depression with a financial crisis added in for fun. Because apparently the only thing better than one crisis is three tearing the country apart simultaneously. That’s not normal government decision-making, but it’s a good illustration of the path dependency of panicked rather than rational thought.