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mistakes were made
assessing what "leaders" claim to have "learned" and what they should have known all along
groovy gavin has been out on his apology/rebranding tour, likely in preparation for a run for the presidency. leaving aside that newsom is about as sincere as a scorpion about his contrition and would happily pivot back to calling the governors who fought to open their states murderers again the femtosecond he thought is was a net vote getter, this whole line of claims around “we’re all geniuses in hindsight” and “how could we have known?” rings not only odiously but dangerously false.
it’s a facile form of revisionism to excuse having acted horribly and abandoned science and sense alike.
and the pretense that “no one could have known” is flatly fallacious.
it’s just political posturing to gaslight the unwary.
longtime gatopal™ newman states it perfectly.
his instantly infamous interview has some real whoppers in terms of self serving framings.
“I think we would’ve done everything differently,” Newsom said in a taped interview set to air on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday.
“I think all of us in terms of our collective wisdom, we’ve evolved. We didn’t know what we didn’t know. We’re experts in hindsight. We’re all geniuses now.”
sorry, but taking the world on a misadventure of unprecedented policy whose harms were obvious to anyone with two braincells to rub together and whose benefits were (at best) speculative and (in reality) known to be illusory and literally directly contra-indicated by 100 years of standing pandemic guidelines rooted in evidence based assessment is not “oopsie, we didn’t know what we didn’t know.” this is something altogether different.
the precautionary principle warns against itself. it warns against taking rash actions without sound basis, especially if their costs are vast. it does not say “hey, when you don’t know stuff, do the biggest, craziest thing you can think of, especially if it has no history of working!”
“genius now” or no, he was a world class idiot then.
he, like many others, were cowards and fools. they not only got it all wrong, but they adopted stances of savage coercion and endless moral hectoring over it. they trampled any who tried to speak sense and vilified any who sought to take a more sensible course. they censored, they othered, they marginalized. this was the same guy pushing laws forbidding doctors from even speaking to patients about topics of which the state did not approve.
helluva stance for a guy who “didn’t know what he didn’t know.”
not exactly a rousing endorsement of sagacious judgement.
but this leads to the truly interesting questions, doesn’t it?
what should he (and others like him) have known?
what should they have known they didn’t know?
and the answer is stark because if you even paused to look at this for 10 fricking minutes, it was dazzlingly, irrefutably obvious and none of the past fears or current attempts at revisionist pseudoscience change any of it.
this was the worst sort of mob behavior and any leader that did not rapidly know better is no leader at all.
way back in early 2020, (before getting decatformed from twitter for their trouble) certain internet felines were exploring this issue in depth. let’s take a walk down memory lane and see just what “no one could have known,” shall we?
first off, “2 weeks to flatten the curve” was a great soundbite, but it was garbage science known to be false. the NIH, CDC, WHO, they all knew this. so did US biodefense agencies. lockdowns don’t work. neither do travel bans, school closures, masking, distancing, mass testing, or bizarre fetishistic placement of plexiglass everywhere.
all one had to do was read the published fricking science.
not exactly subtle was it? and this is not some crackpot journal, it’s literally “biosecurity and bioterrorism: biodefense strategy, practice, and science” from 2006.
and they were far from alone:
by the time you hit 1%, the game is already over, even in “models.” and guess what? you will NEVER catch an aerosol pandemic before 1% and honestly, even if you did, i doubt very much this works anyhow. and even “models” said so until they made up a huge pile of new ones.
note the date here. as i will keep arguing, even if you were a complete fool and knew nothing of past data or risk/reward calculation, by april/may 2020, the facts on lockdown were no longer arguable, it was obvious that “covid was not different,” and that not only was none of this expected to work, but that literally none of this was working.
if an internet cat using nothing but public data and excel could nail this, any health agency or leader that could not is deeply suspect and is not fit for role. i had no special knowledge of this beforehand or even any real previous interest in epidemiology. but i got interested. and it was not that hard to get informed.
i’m going to post links to timestamps/publication as proof of how clear this really was.
LINK to source thread. (italics are direct, unaltered quotes from tweets)
here i took rate of change in covid deaths and plotted it against publicly available google mobility data taken from cellphones which i used as an objective measure of lockdowns.
to my knowledge, i was the first twitterati to do this. it looks like health agencies and governments never even tried. if they did, they sure didn’t publish it.
at the time, everyone was speaking of “R” the replication rate of the virus where R refers to the number of people each sick person will infect. numbers >1 indicate spread, <1 contraction.
i chose only countries that presented real date of death data, not data from “day of report” as that makes for unreliable epidemiology due to artifacts.
i used deaths, not cases, because they were better captured and less prone to artifacts from testing rates that often inverted case trends and made them basically unusable. deaths are not perfect and are likely overstated by wide margins, but they were the best metric we had and likely good enough for this purpose.
i then shifted the deaths curve 24 days because that is the typical time from contraction to death.
look how smooth and perfect gompertz that moving avg is. it’s pretty obvious that nothing bent it. it’s also clear it did not turn back up when distancing abated. we’ll see this pattern over and over in everything we look at. it was ubiquitous. gompertz, gompertz, gompertz. smooth curves, no bends.
it looks like nothing. it looks like it started too late to account for the sharp drop and it looks like winding it down had no effect on disease progression either. we can see this in the regression. there is no correlation between lockdown/phys distancing and deaths
this methodology is a little complex, so let me explain what i did. a few EU countries provide real day of death data. this lets us plot meaningful curves to show rate of disease change. what struck me is how similar all the curves were. everyone got the same shape.
but behavior in these countries was very different. many argue about who locked down when and how hard. the google mobility data lets us look at what actually happened with precise timing and quantitative results. it seems like the best data available. this is a composite score
assessing whether distancing worked brings us back to this regression (references scatterplot above) COV takes 6 days from infection to symptoms +18 more from symp to death so, we take the day distancing began 3/12 in neth based on SIS going neg and compare to deaths 25 days later (to be charitable)
if distancing works, we'd expect R death to drop once it took effect and rise when it recedes. instead, we see absolutely nothing. distancing has zero effect and no ability at all to predict R(deaths) in the future. i looked at lots of intervals no correlation, no causality.
HERE is a simplified look from another post.
the timing is the same and the responses are massively different in magnitude, and yet their rate of change in deaths (R death) is indistinguishable from netherlands the point of lockdown was supposed to be to bend the curve. if R(death) is the same then it did not do so.
the moving average makes this even more clear.
without labels, you could not tell the difference. it was just glaringly obvious that lockdowns were having no effect on covid.
and here’s the kicker:
with the offset, the distancing and the effect should line up exactly and, if distancing were perfectly effective, the curves should show the same shape. but they don't.
it looks like distancing had no effects on deaths, but, interestingly, it appears that deaths did drive distancing. this is strong correlation. and we know that distancing today cannot affect deaths today. so the causality can only flow one way.
distancing was a panic reaction.
we can see this another way. i found peak distancing and set it as value 1. i took peak deaths and did the same. i then expressed all other days of both as % of peak. look how well they line up. distancing was a pure response to the state of that day.
but, because it had no measurable effect 24 days later, this response was clearly ineffective. we get the same response in the other EU countries (though not in the US who was different) the UK wins for "top karen" which, given their sudden volte face, makes sense .86 R2!
we even get the counterfactual:
the one outlier is precisely who one would expect: sweden. there is basally no correlation
this entire narrative was data denial and the data was always right there for anyone who wanted it. i had no special access to anything nor any special tools. every bit of this was free on the internet. and if i could see it, so could health agencies and the staffs of governors.
they chose not to. the blindness was willful. and the narratives they pushed were lies. and they either knew or should have known this. there is no other valid conclusion. the “data” they drove into the public consciousness was made up.
note again the total lack of bend in the curves from lockdown. they take no notice whatsoever.
and it just kept bearing out, again and again.
and this is why leaders coming out now as “i would have done things differently if i knew what i knew now” ring so false. they knew it then or certainly should have known it. it was obvious and widespread.
getting shocked and awed into compliance in march of 2020 or suckered by the “it’s just 2 weeks” ploy was troubling enough in a leader. VERY few passed that test and that speaks poorly of our electoral choices, but not to have seen the facts on the ground by april and may is basically a sign you were not even trying.
some were quite contrite early on and went back to normal. they WERE trying. the mea culpas were real.
but others kept up the hectoring, the closures, the suppression for YEARS past this point. (we had 2.5 years of curfew on puerto rico)
california was one of the last in CONUS to open. newsom wore it like a badge of honor and attacked those who did differently with vicious glee.
and for governor gavin to be saying thing like this now
“It should be alarming to all of us that that all of a sudden health became partisan,” he said. “And that’s something we’re going to pay a big price, you’re right, going forward. But it won’t break us because we’re remarkably resilient.”
should enrage you.
it should disqualify him from future leadership. to be sure, public health became hyper partisan, but he was the one leading that charge (in the wrong direction). it was folks like newsom and cuomo and whitmer that drove one of the highest correlations in all of covid to be “intensity of drop in google mobility” to “political party of state governor.”
this issue was, indeed, politicized unlike anything i have ever seen in my life and frankly, lots of people from both parties failed to acquit themselves well. it was more than anything a war of these politicos against we the people. they dined out, flew to vacation homes, got their hair done, and generally flounced and flouted while the rank and file got crushed.
in late 2022, they were still passing laws to make disagreeing with politicians on covid an offense that could cost a doctor their certification.
and now “mistakes were made, sorry, we didn’t know what we didn’t know?”
this is not a narrative nor a framing that can be allowed to stand. it’s just too dangerous. it’s the folks who should have known telling you than no one could have.
and they are wrong and they are lying.
obviously, many of us did know. and we showed our work. because this was (to borrow a technical term from the scientific lexicon) “stunningly goddam obvious.”
and they would have known it too had they looked instead of censored and scienced instead of shilled.
they have learned nothing and they will 100% do this again next time because people like this do not change.
and so we must.
and move on without them.
or did you need another lesson?