5 votes

Bill Gates is so over this pandemic

73 comments

  1. [7]
    Bullmaestro
    Link
    If COVID has proven one thing, it's that we'd be driven to extinction in the case of deadlier pathogen. I remember falling down a YouTube rabbit hole a few years back of watching zombie movie...

    If COVID has proven one thing, it's that we'd be driven to extinction in the case of deadlier pathogen.

    I remember falling down a YouTube rabbit hole a few years back of watching zombie movie reviews. Train to Busan was one particular movie that got shat on by critics because of how people were depicted doing stupid things that actually hindered efforts and let the zombie outbreak spread further. We're talking people opening barricades to let zombies through, hiding bites, etc.

    These past two years have proven that "bad" horror films like Train to Busan are totally fucking accurate when it comes to showing the human psyche.

    17 votes
    1. [6]
      stu2b50
      Link Parent
      Eh, that depends on how it's deadlier. For just a disease with a higher mortality rate I do not think the response would be the same. For one, deadlier diseases in general tend to be much worse at...

      Eh, that depends on how it's deadlier. For just a disease with a higher mortality rate I do not think the response would be the same. For one, deadlier diseases in general tend to be much worse at being contagious - dead people spread diseases much worse than alive people in the modern era.

      But from other deadly outbreaks like Ebola, it was a much more clear cut response from the public. COVID was right there in the sweetspot - deadly enough for it to absolutely be a problem for the medical system and for mortality rates on a national level, but with low enough of a mortality rate that the vast majority of the people who flaunted COVID restrictions and vaccines will not have any significant consequences.

      Basically, really bad from national level of scope, not that bad from a personal level of scope, and that mixture just caused all of this.

      When things get really deadly, then the selfish thing to do is to follow all the best practices to not die, whereas for many healthy, young-ish people the selfish thing to do is to keep on keeping-on in this pandemic.

      11 votes
      1. [5]
        vord
        Link Parent
        Not exactly. Random mutations are random, and viruses do not have planning, foresight, or concious. If a random COVID mutation just started causing heart attacks in otherwise asymptomatic...

        For one, deadlier diseases in general tend to be much worse at being contagious - dead people spread diseases much worse than alive people in the modern era.

        Not exactly. Random mutations are random, and viruses do not have planning, foresight, or concious.

        If a random COVID mutation just started causing heart attacks in otherwise asymptomatic patients, it would not impact its ability to spread short of killing off vast quantities of the planet.

        4 votes
        1. [2]
          babypuncher
          Link Parent
          I don't know about that. What is stopping the various common cold viruses from randomly mutating hyper-deadly variants? I think being deadly puts a virus at an evolutionary disadvantage. Severely...

          If a random COVID mutation just started causing heart attacks in otherwise asymptomatic patients, it would not impact its ability to spread short of killing off vast quantities of the planet.

          I don't know about that. What is stopping the various common cold viruses from randomly mutating hyper-deadly variants? I think being deadly puts a virus at an evolutionary disadvantage. Severely ill and/or dead hosts seem less likely to spread the virus to new hosts than those who just have the sniffles. The typical course for pandemics we've observed is for the disease to eventually become less severe to the point where it is no longer a major concern.

          5 votes
          1. vord
            Link Parent
            For you and @Amarok : https://medium.com/microbial-instincts/viruses-dont-always-get-less-deadly-768b1bf38c3c The idea that viruses get weaker over time is state-of-the-art science at the turn of...

            For you and @Amarok :

            https://medium.com/microbial-instincts/viruses-dont-always-get-less-deadly-768b1bf38c3c

            The idea that viruses get weaker over time is state-of-the-art science at the turn of the 19th century. We've learned a lot since then. AIDS and rabies are two such examples where they are completely lethal and have not decreased in severity or transmissible over time.

            What I was ultimately getting at, is that it this hypothetical variant would be no less contagious. Yea, it might eventually kill off that strain. But since multiple strains can exist at any given time, it's not like one of these couldn't perpetually co-exist with other variants. And COVID has shown that it's easily transmissible well before killing people, so if you only have a 1 week lag before you even find out you came in contact with an infectious person, it doesn't really matter if the host is dead unless the host isolated for 2 weeks every time they interacted with someone else.

            7 votes
        2. [2]
          Amarok
          Link Parent
          If the hosts die of a heart attack after a couple days, the virus has no opportunity to spread from the dead body of the host. If it has a living host and can hang on to that host longer than that...

          If the hosts die of a heart attack after a couple days, the virus has no opportunity to spread from the dead body of the host. If it has a living host and can hang on to that host longer than that same couple of days without killing him, the chances to infect new hosts are astronomically higher. That's the selection pressure that incentivizes viruses to be nice and learn how to stick around rather than just killing.

          I think the way we did the quarantine leaves a lot of room for improvement. Pick two weeks every 3-5 years and do a planetary lockdown, call it a reading holiday. That's switching from defense to offense. We do that and we will diminish or make extinct many strains of many viruses, far more than just whatever coronavirus du-jour we're dealing with.

          The quarantines were only a problem because of the uncertainty. If we know years in advance that a particular two week period will be a global quarantine, we can prepare for it much more easily. No economic damage, just lost business opportunity. It also gives nations time to get coordinated.

          We know it'll work because even this slapdash mess we just went through with covid-19 made many variants of the flu and the common cold extinct. Covid has become so greedy that it is cannibalizing its cousins. We will never get them all, but we can do a lot better with any attempt at global planning and coordination.

          2 votes
          1. vord
            Link Parent
            It quite does. And if I've learned anything from this, it's that there's 0 hope for globally implementing a harsher, more organized quarantine. Yes, it would work great. But there were people in...

            I think the way we did the quarantine leaves a lot of room for improvement.

            It quite does. And if I've learned anything from this, it's that there's 0 hope for globally implementing a harsher, more organized quarantine. Yes, it would work great. But there were people in the midst of the worst of things still complaining that they couldn't go to the salon or eat in a restaurant.

            Even if you could get it working, I doubt it would do much good. Yea, you could kill off a lot of variants, but plenty of new variant will crop up inside of 2 weeks of the staycation being over. My child started attending pre-K in August after over a year of full isolation and I think I've been sickness-free for about 3 weeks total since then.

            1 vote
  2. [65]
    lou
    Link
    Archived. Negative comments are of course always welcomed, but may I respectfully suggest we avoid the lazy default "Bill Gates is the devil" top comment? Thanks!

    Archived.

    Negative comments are of course always welcomed, but may I respectfully suggest we avoid the lazy default "Bill Gates is the devil" top comment? Thanks!

    6 votes
    1. [64]
      mtset
      Link Parent
      Okay, I'll put it here :) More seriously, his argument seems to be that, because there are other risks in the world, we should stop worrying about our cardiovascular systems being ravaged by a...

      Okay, I'll put it here :)

      More seriously, his argument seems to be that, because there are other risks in the world, we should stop worrying about our cardiovascular systems being ravaged by a widespread infections illness:

      [Interviewer] Well, it's still happening. Some people even question whether it's wise to gather for TED.

      [Gates] Because why?
      [Interviewer] We're still in a pandemic.

      [Gates] The greatest risk of people coming to this conference was getting into a car. Should they have taken a car? It's very controversial! People should think hard about getting into cars! I mean, people are dying. I think somebody died today. We could look it up. I mean, let's be serious. Is no one willing to be numeric anymore?

      Fuck that. I don't drive if I can help it; that's a way I can protect myself. I also wear masks and stay out of large gatherings; that's a way I can protect myself. Gates seems to be saying we shouldn't advocate for policies that protect us from the pandemic because we don't advocate for policies that protect us from cars, but, you know, I do advocate for those policies. Gates is thoroughly pro-car, and as usual assumes everyone is like him.

      The joke he's telling, here, is, "If you really cared about people dying, you should think it's bad that people drive everywhere." I do think that. He has the money to fund counter-automobile urbanism and significantly reduce fatalities in road accidents, but he doesn't want to; to him, anti-automobile policy is a joke.

      I wish everyone would stop listening to him. Just because he got lucky in the 80s, doesn't mean he's actually smarter or better informed than anyone else.

      16 votes
      1. [30]
        babypuncher
        Link Parent
        I'm kind of with him on this. Vaccines and new treatments have considerably blunted the risks posed by COVID. And frankly, I am uninterested in living the rest of my life as a hermit as I have for...

        I'm kind of with him on this. Vaccines and new treatments have considerably blunted the risks posed by COVID. And frankly, I am uninterested in living the rest of my life as a hermit as I have for the last two years. At some point we have to accept the fact that COVID is not going away, it is simply becoming endemic.

        17 votes
        1. [5]
          mtset
          Link Parent
          That's well and good for you, but as someone whose boyfriend has severe athsma, I need to consider it an existential risk for as long as I care about him, and I can't really spend time around...

          That's well and good for you, but as someone whose boyfriend has severe athsma, I need to consider it an existential risk for as long as I care about him, and I can't really spend time around people who don't.

          "COVID will become endemic so we may as well go about our lives" translates, for me, into "I care more about being able to go to the store without a mask than I do about my relationship with you, or the lives of the disabled people in my vicinity," and that sucks.

          10 votes
          1. Adys
            Link Parent
            Both of these things can be true. An old girlfriend of mine is immunosuppressed and at very high risk of Covid. She has it, and is in the hospital right now, with severe lung infection and almost...

            Both of these things can be true.

            An old girlfriend of mine is immunosuppressed and at very high risk of Covid. She has it, and is in the hospital right now, with severe lung infection and almost died yesterday, to the point she texted me her goodbye. This hasn't been a great day.

            But... she is the exception, and I have to remember that. I care about her a LOT, and would never, ever put her at any sort of risk, but when it goes to everyday life... we move on. Covid is endemic, and for most people it is fairly harmless, and a vaccine is available.

            She herself takes very high precautions but absolutely doesn't live as a hermit. She certainly goes out less than the average but won't hesitate to, for example, work from a cafe with a good mask on, surrounded with people who most likely don't give a shit.

            There's something to be said about a life worth living. "We'll all catch it at some point" may sound bleak, but it's pretty true. I have five(!) vaccines in me right now and I am lying in bed with Covid right now. She takes extreme precautions and is hospitalized with it right now. I don't have a single person in my contacts I know who hasn't had it, including all the very careful ones. This shit spreads easily, and it kind of defeats all the efforts you're making the moment you do catch it...

            If you do catch it, and you are at high risk, there are good treatments available now as well. And medicine keeps progressing on it as it's one of the highest medical priorities on the planet right now. Of course, I'm
            incredibly thankful she didn't catch it 6-12 months ago when she would have suffered a great deal more, likely died from a stronger variant and less effective treatment (and she's not out of the woods yet...). But it's a risk tradeoff for everybody, and there is no absolute in it.

            I wrote the same thing several months ago, and I'm still pretty emotional from what happened yesterday but my emotions don't change the facts: Gates is right, cars are way more dangerous than Covid for the majority of people. And like you, I do want cars gone, but I'll still step on the street / go into a car when the risk-tradeoff makes sense.

            24 votes
          2. Atvelonis
            Link Parent
            COVID is also an existential risk for those without severe comorbidities. It's not like it can't kill healthy people. It's unrealistic to expect you'll avoid COVID forever, no matter how careful...

            COVID is also an existential risk for those without severe comorbidities. It's not like it can't kill healthy people.

            It's unrealistic to expect you'll avoid COVID forever, no matter how careful you are. Anecdotally, the most hyper-cautious people I know can still end up sick—double boosted, masks everywhere, basically zero contact with humanity. I've somehow been spared, despite living with five people; going to athletic tournaments, dances, restaurants, and bars for months; and regularly taking public transit.

            This pattern contradicts every statistic we know as well as common sense. In reality, what we "know" is not comprehensive. Quoting an epidemiologist in The New York Times from last year, "We’ve ascribed far too much human authority over the virus." The disease's trends are often inexplicable on both the micro and macro scale. Vaccinations, masks, and distancing help, but it just isn't that simple.

            It's reasonable for you to take extra precautions. However, COVID is endemic now, so nothing you or anyone else does is going to guarantee your safety. I respect your fortitude here, but the disease is so random that potentially ending many of your friendships for the sake of maximum protection is not necessarily worth it.

            I think it's also worthwhile to consider that treatment for COVID is pretty good now. According to a study by the CDC, the risk of death from COVID is enormously higher when a patient has 4+ comorbidities (see Figure 2); any less and the risk of death is still significant, but much lower. That said, a lot of this data was pre-vaccine, and today's antivirals are significantly better! Pavloxid (nirmatrelvir/ritonavir), for example, apparently reduces the risk of death from COVID by 89% in unvaccinated patients. People don't seem to know about these drugs—the math is different now than it was in 2020.

            Pretending COVID is gone would be systemically irresponsible, but we don't have to completely structure our lives around it anymore.

            7 votes
          3. [2]
            psi
            Link Parent
            I still wear a mask when I go out, but I honestly don't know what more I can do.

            I still wear a mask when I go out, but I honestly don't know what more I can do.

            5 votes
            1. mtset
              Link Parent
              Well, thank you for wearing a mask! I think the answer to what more you can do is support policies that make mask-wearing mandatory, that fund free testing for the uninsured, that require...

              Well, thank you for wearing a mask! I think the answer to what more you can do is support policies that make mask-wearing mandatory, that fund free testing for the uninsured, that require conferences to have a remote option (which is a huge accessibility win for other reasons too), and which make all the amazing treatments folks have been talking about in this thread actually affordable. And I don't mean just by voting, I mean doing whatever actually changes the votes of your elected officials, and by making or pushing those decisions for any events or spaces you're a part of.

              6 votes
        2. [24]
          Comment deleted by author
          Link Parent
          1. [21]
            mtset
            Link Parent
            Please consider that only collective action can protect people who are, as you so delicately put it, "old/compromised."

            It's actually kind of strange how paranoid the boosted people I know are - they don't seem to appreciate just how effective the vaccines are (especially if they're not old/compromised) and how much comfort it should give them to act more freely in their personal lives.

            Please consider that only collective action can protect people who are, as you so delicately put it, "old/compromised."

            8 votes
            1. [3]
              vord
              Link Parent
              I was in your boat, I really was. Trawl my post history if you don't believe me. We got a pre-k kid and a toddler, whom still aren't vaccinnated. All of my inlaws are either immunocomprimized,...

              I was in your boat, I really was. Trawl my post history if you don't believe me.

              We got a pre-k kid and a toddler, whom still aren't vaccinnated. All of my inlaws are either immunocomprimized, old, or both. We took this pandemic seriously from day 1.

              But the lifting of the mandates just kinda broke me and my family. We've been through the stages of COVID acceptance, the same way we do grief. Even the highest-risk of us have just come to terms with 'if its my time to go'.

              Because 5 year olds need to see their friends' faces. Babies need to be held by their great grandparents before they die.

              There's a lot of work that needs to be done if we (as a species) are going to survive in the climate catastrophe. We're not going to be able to do it all isolated.

              14 votes
              1. [2]
                mtset
                Link Parent
                I fucking hate it here. I hate that you're probably right most of all. God fucking damn it. We all deserved better than this.

                We've been through the stages of COVID acceptance, the same way we do grief. Even the highest-risk of us have just come to terms with 'if its my time to go'.

                I fucking hate it here. I hate that you're probably right most of all. God fucking damn it. We all deserved better than this.

                11 votes
                1. vord
                  Link Parent
                  Absolutely 0 disagreement. The entire situation was a shitshow, and it's only going to get worse with our pending economic collapse and food shortages.

                  Absolutely 0 disagreement. The entire situation was a shitshow, and it's only going to get worse with our pending economic collapse and food shortages.

                  6 votes
            2. [9]
              teaearlgraycold
              Link Parent
              I'm back to working in person and attending fairly large gatherings without masks on. COVID will never be eradicated. We're in a state now where we have anti-virals and good vaccines. We won't...

              I'm back to working in person and attending fairly large gatherings without masks on. COVID will never be eradicated. We're in a state now where we have anti-virals and good vaccines. We won't ever get much better on that front. So the way I see it we can either permanently change everyone's lives for the worse or accept this is the situation we'll be in for the remainder of the human era.

              I do still wear a face mask in certain situations (if I'm asked to by a business, if I'm traveling, etc.). But it's only as an exception.

              8 votes
              1. [8]
                mtset
                Link Parent
                I refuse to accept that my disabled friends and loved ones are a necessary sacrifice for some vision of normalcy. I don't give a fuck if I can go without a mask if my fucking boyfriend dies of a...

                the way I see it we can either permanently change everyone's lives for the worse or accept this is the situation we'll be in for the remainder of the human era.

                I refuse to accept that my disabled friends and loved ones are a necessary sacrifice for some vision of normalcy. I don't give a fuck if I can go without a mask if my fucking boyfriend dies of a preventable illness, and I don't understand why people seem to think that's an extreme position.

                6 votes
                1. [5]
                  DrStone
                  Link Parent
                  Were you railing this hard against anyone in public without a mask, large gatherings, and such pre-COVID? Influenza in the US historically has hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and tens of...

                  Were you railing this hard against anyone in public without a mask, large gatherings, and such pre-COVID? Influenza in the US historically has hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and tens of thousands of deaths annually. Pneumonia is another big one. An immunocompromised person probably has historically had to additionally worry about everything down to the common cold. Surely your disabled friends and boyfriend have had to deal with the looming threat of disease their entire lives and take personal precautions. Why is COVID still the special case for population-level behavior changes/disruption with the current predominant strain(s) relatively mild outcomes for the majority and the medical toolset available (vaccines, antivirals, etc.)? You and your friends and boyfriend are free to wear masks or take whatever extra precautions you want, but to expect everyone to continue taking those precautions indefinitely is unreasonable.

                  11 votes
                  1. [3]
                    Comment deleted by author
                    Link Parent
                    1. [2]
                      DrStone
                      Link Parent
                      Yup, that's totally what I was saying. You got me. Bonus points for making assumptions about my personal situation.

                      I'm tired of abled people telling me that expecting my loved ones be able to live a long and happy life is unreasonable.

                      Yup, that's totally what I was saying. You got me. Bonus points for making assumptions about my personal situation.

                      12 votes
                  2. [2]
                    Whom
                    Link Parent
                    Even if they weren't doing so in a health crisis of similar severity, lack of action in the past wouldn't change anything except that they should have been more vigilant back then.

                    Even if they weren't doing so in a health crisis of similar severity, lack of action in the past wouldn't change anything except that they should have been more vigilant back then.

                    4 votes
                    1. DrStone
                      Link Parent
                      It's useful to know whether someone has always felt/acted a certain way or whether it has changed at some point (and why exactly), and whether it is related to a specific thing or more broadly....

                      It's useful to know whether someone has always felt/acted a certain way or whether it has changed at some point (and why exactly), and whether it is related to a specific thing or more broadly.

                      Someone worried specifically about COVID may have fears reduced when genuinely considered and contextualized alongside other disease threats, but such a discussion wouldn't be productive for someone who feels that way about disease broadly. Someone who's changed with hardline stances and uncharitable interpretations of the contrary may benefit, at the very least, from being reminded that they once held those same ideas or would have made those same recommendations. And so on.

                      Same for the opposite end, with anti-vax and anti-covid-vax, long-term believers and more recent converts.

                      6 votes
                2. [2]
                  teaearlgraycold
                  Link Parent
                  I don’t know if you actually want to hear my thoughts on this. But anyway - I don’t think you’re extreme. You have a different situation than others and are responding differently.

                  I don’t know if you actually want to hear my thoughts on this.

                  But anyway - I don’t think you’re extreme. You have a different situation than others and are responding differently.

                  2 votes
                  1. mtset
                    Link Parent
                    I do. I'm interested. I have a lot of feelings about this, but I respect the opinions of most folks on here, and yours especially.

                    I do. I'm interested. I have a lot of feelings about this, but I respect the opinions of most folks on here, and yours especially.

                    2 votes
            3. [9]
              Comment deleted by author
              Link Parent
              1. [8]
                MimicSquid
                Link Parent
                But we do choose to mitigate risks, in ways that do profoundly change society. What exact risk/life balance is picked varies from place to place. Risk is an inherent fact of life, but the exact...

                But we do choose to mitigate risks, in ways that do profoundly change society. What exact risk/life balance is picked varies from place to place. Risk is an inherent fact of life, but the exact risk/life balance on any topic is a result of real choices made by people. Otherwise you might as well say "There's risk of food-borne diseases, but life is risky and everyone needs to eat. Let's gut the FDA."

                3 votes
                1. [8]
                  Comment deleted by author
                  Link Parent
                  1. [3]
                    MimicSquid
                    Link Parent
                    But that's what I mean. All precautions were once special precautions. There was a time when all milk was unpasteurized, and now a few people are grumpy about the rarity of raw milk, but we have...

                    But that's what I mean. All precautions were once special precautions. There was a time when all milk was unpasteurized, and now a few people are grumpy about the rarity of raw milk, but we have adapted to that level of precaution as a society and mostly never think of it as weird. You think of these precautions as unreasonable and frustrating because you're used to something different.

                    That said, I'm certainly interested in data on how many lives are saved by a permanent mask mandate inside crowded spaces, but to get that we'd have to have and enforce it for long enough to get that data. It seems like it's too much of an inconvenience to enough people to even find out, though.

                    1 vote
                    1. [2]
                      skybrian
                      Link Parent
                      Yes, there is a ratcheting up of safety measures over time. When I was a kid none of us wore bike helmets, cars didn't have air bags, and seat belts were sometimes just lap belts and not always...

                      Yes, there is a ratcheting up of safety measures over time. When I was a kid none of us wore bike helmets, cars didn't have air bags, and seat belts were sometimes just lap belts and not always worn.

                      As a result of this pandemic mask-wearing has become political. I think most people thought of it as an emergency thing only. But you could also make the case that masks have good effects.

                      For example, flu deaths range from 12k to 50k in a normal year. A preliminary CDC estimate is 4k – 11k in 2021 - which seems pretty attributable to COVID countermeasures. Now add COVID to that, at whatever rate it turns out to be in the long run.

                      So why shouldn't mask wearing be common? Permanently, or as long as these diseases are still around?

                      But to many people, this was not the deal. The deal was that COVID emergency measures would be temporary and things would go back to "normal." Or so they wished.

                      I do wish the debate weren't so focused on masks as the most visible and politically divisive symbol, though. What about the other countermeasures? Why don't we commonly have UV disinfecting lights and improved ventilation in public places?

                      1 vote
                      1. vektor
                        Link Parent
                        Germany reporting in: Maks aren't nearly as political a symbol here as over there. At least in my part of the country, it's quite common to see some amount of mask wearing even as restrictions are...

                        Germany reporting in: Maks aren't nearly as political a symbol here as over there. At least in my part of the country, it's quite common to see some amount of mask wearing even as restrictions are being lifted. AFAICT, masks are currently only mandatory in public transit. They're also commonly worn in e.g. the super market. Which I approve of. I don't need your snot in my face on the way to grab dinner, thank you very much kind sir. And that is amidst the current wave of relaxations: Social life is brimming again. I actually kind of like where we are right now, all things considered: Sure, case numbers are a bit high, but it's sustainable and they will come down with more immunity. Social life is in an acceptable place. Hygiene measures are well established and generally well accepted (at least as far as could be expected of humans). As far as I can see and as far as I care, we're sticking to the effective and efficient interventions quite well. Meanwhile, the absolutely my-ass-is-on-fire emergency measures we saw the last two years, mostly social distancing, are largely dropped. These were always only ever temporary emergency measures; I hope we (in this thread) can agree on that.

                        That said, the hermit in me enjoyed having another excuse to say no to unwelcome social events. Oh well.

                        3 votes
                  2. [4]
                    mtset
                    Link Parent
                    When COVID stops being an active, elevated threat. Which it never will, because a bunch of fucking abled politicians couldn't get off their asses to deal with it in time. I have to live in fear of...

                    I'm really just interested in hearing about when we should objectively stop adopting these COVID restrictions for those still advocating them.

                    When COVID stops being an active, elevated threat. Which it never will, because a bunch of fucking abled politicians couldn't get off their asses to deal with it in time.

                    I have to live in fear of bringing home the virus that kills my boyfriend for the rest of my life. I have to live with that anxiety every single day. I don't get to opt out, ever. I'm not interested in hearing people whine about how annoying it is to wear masks and show vaccine cards at concerts, or how expensive it is to provide remote options (which disabled people have been asking for since 2010 anyway.)

                    Our society made this bed. I have to sleep in it, and so do you.

                    1 vote
                    1. [4]
                      Comment deleted by author
                      Link Parent
                      1. [3]
                        mtset
                        Link Parent
                        How about no worse than the flu? In 2018, 80,000 people died of flu, which was a significant increase over previous years. [1] COVID outstrips even the worst flu years by an order of magnitude. 1:...

                        How about no worse than the flu? In 2018, 80,000 people died of flu, which was a significant increase over previous years. [1] COVID outstrips even the worst flu years by an order of magnitude.

                        1: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/ncna914246

                        2 votes
                        1. [2]
                          Atvelonis
                          (edited )
                          Link Parent
                          Out of curiosity, what makes 80,000 a sensible cutoff to you? Or even 12,000? It's not clear to me why any arbitrary number like this is "objectively" satisfying; why it deserves to have a special...

                          Out of curiosity, what makes 80,000 a sensible cutoff to you? Or even 12,000?

                          It's not clear to me why any arbitrary number like this is "objectively" satisfying; why it deserves to have a special status as the threshold that determines public health policy and behaviors. It makes intuitive sense, but being socialized to recognize the flu as a "normal" part of life seems like a shaky foundation for how we ought to shape human behavior. It wasn't always normal, and it technically doesn't have to be. If the goal is to reduce death, why don't we go further? Why allow anyone to die of the flu when everyone could live?

                          I don't mean to prod you too hard—I know this isn't your main point. I'm just not sure it's useful to even think about precise numerical thresholds in such extremes. I see statistical value in things like positive/negative basic reproduction numbers, but I feel weird giving them moral significance in most other cases.

                          3 votes
                          1. mtset
                            Link Parent
                            I was pushed for a numerical marker of normalcy, so I came up with one. I agree that's it's problematic.

                            I was pushed for a numerical marker of normalcy, so I came up with one. I agree that's it's problematic.

                            2 votes
          2. [2]
            NoblePath
            Link Parent
            We may not all ever be compromised, but we will nearly all eventually be old.

            We may not all ever be compromised, but we will nearly all eventually be old.

            4 votes
            1. mtset
              Link Parent
              Or, as my very good friend puts it, "disability is the only minority I can make you a part of." ☺️

              Or, as my very good friend puts it, "disability is the only minority I can make you a part of." ☺️

              4 votes
      2. [17]
        NoblePath
        Link Parent
        He wasn’t just lucky, he was really smart about the software business. But that hardly makes him expert in any other arena. We seem as a species to suck at identifying the right experts and leaders.

        He wasn’t just lucky, he was really smart about the software business.

        But that hardly makes him expert in any other arena. We seem as a species to suck at identifying the right experts and leaders.

        6 votes
        1. [14]
          cutchyacokov
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          If he was just as smart with business software and his mother wasn't on the board of directors at IBM, where he made the deal that ultimately lead to him becoming the richest man in the world, I'm...

          If he was just as smart with business software and his mother wasn't on the board of directors at IBM, where he made the deal that ultimately lead to him becoming the richest man in the world, I'm quite certain his life would have had a very different trajectory.

          Having said that, he did write the basic programming language which powered most 8bit micros of the 80s. I think as much as anyone "deserves" to be a millionaire, Bill Gates "deserves" it for that but I can't see him even hitting billionaire without being obscenely lucky, as well as having good business sense and all the rest.

          7 votes
          1. [13]
            Akir
            Link Parent
            To be clear, Gates did not invent BASIC; it had been around for over a decade by the time the first Micro-Soft BASIC came out, and even then Gates was not the sole author.

            To be clear, Gates did not invent BASIC; it had been around for over a decade by the time the first Micro-Soft BASIC came out, and even then Gates was not the sole author.

            6 votes
            1. [12]
              cutchyacokov
              Link Parent
              This shouldn't surprise me at all but it somehow did, I thought that was his one major contribution. Gates really hasn't done anything useful for humanity and is one of the richest people alive....

              This shouldn't surprise me at all but it somehow did, I thought that was his one major contribution. Gates really hasn't done anything useful for humanity and is one of the richest people alive. Meritocracy, right?

              3 votes
              1. [5]
                skybrian
                Link Parent
                He did help write a very popular implementation of BASIC that ran on many 8-bit microcomputers. And in any case, it's not how he became a billionaire. Licensing MS-DOS to IBM was a lot more...

                He did help write a very popular implementation of BASIC that ran on many 8-bit microcomputers. And in any case, it's not how he became a billionaire. Licensing MS-DOS to IBM was a lot more important.

                In any case, living through the dot-com era cured me of the idea that people "deserve" their riches. I'm not even sure what that would mean? It's kind of a remnant of a just-world fallacy.

                You could just as well say that everyone deserves to be rich, but not everyone gets it.

                6 votes
                1. [4]
                  Akir
                  Link Parent
                  People who get rich off of their merits are extremely rare. The vast majority of rich people become so either because they inherited it or because they stole Their riches from others. And the...

                  People who get rich off of their merits are extremely rare. The vast majority of rich people become so either because they inherited it or because they stole Their riches from others. And the people with the most riches are overwhelmingly going to be the latter type.

                  2 votes
                  1. [3]
                    skybrian
                    Link Parent
                    Both inheritance and stealing do happen, but I would like to see evidence for this "vast majority" claim. How would anyone show that, one way or the other?

                    Both inheritance and stealing do happen, but I would like to see evidence for this "vast majority" claim. How would anyone show that, one way or the other?

                    1 vote
                    1. [2]
                      mtset
                      Link Parent
                      Perhaps a better way to put it is: for every multi-millionaire who worked their ass off and is very talented, there are many talented, hard-working people who are not wealthy. Therefore, those who...

                      Perhaps a better way to put it is: for every multi-millionaire who worked their ass off and is very talented, there are many talented, hard-working people who are not wealthy. Therefore, those who are wealthy are lucky, in addition to and regardless of other characteristics.

                      5 votes
              2. [6]
                Akir
                Link Parent
                I honestly think he's one of those tech people who think they can do magic with code, kind of in the same way Zuckerberg is with his Metaverse concept. Just look at how he's still trying to push...

                I honestly think he's one of those tech people who think they can do magic with code, kind of in the same way Zuckerberg is with his Metaverse concept. Just look at how he's still trying to push the concept of 'software agents' after nearly 25 years (Microsoft Agent first came out in 1997, and that was just a retooling of the technology behind the notoriously bad Microsoft Bob in 1995). If Microsoft weren't a monopoly, they very likely could have gone out of business trying to implement some of his stranger ideas.

                3 votes
                1. [5]
                  skybrian
                  Link Parent
                  I'm not sure what you mean by "do magic with code." What evidence is there that Gates has written any code since, say, the first decade of Microsoft's existence? I think he really likes the idea...

                  I'm not sure what you mean by "do magic with code." What evidence is there that Gates has written any code since, say, the first decade of Microsoft's existence? I think he really likes the idea of a software agent and might invest in a company that looks like they could do it, but he's not trying to invent it himself?

                  1 vote
                  1. [4]
                    Akir
                    Link Parent
                    Even without him heading the company, Microsoft was spending significant resources trying to make it a reality. Remember Tay?

                    Even without him heading the company, Microsoft was spending significant resources trying to make it a reality. Remember Tay?

                    2 votes
                    1. [3]
                      skybrian
                      Link Parent
                      Yes, the "intelligent agent" has been a dream in the tech industry for a long time, Microsoft definitely included. Is that what you mean by "do magic with code?"

                      Yes, the "intelligent agent" has been a dream in the tech industry for a long time, Microsoft definitely included. Is that what you mean by "do magic with code?"

                      1 vote
                      1. [2]
                        Akir
                        Link Parent
                        Oh, I'm sorry, I think I misunderstood what you were asking the first time. What I meant is that they have the tendency to think they can make arbitrary sweeping societal changes with computers...

                        Oh, I'm sorry, I think I misunderstood what you were asking the first time. What I meant is that they have the tendency to think they can make arbitrary sweeping societal changes with computers running clever code or some arbitrary innovation. They've got heads-in-the-cloud ambition without the resources to make them reality. It's kind of like the Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field, except where Jobs used it to make his existing products seem more revolutionary than they were, these guys don't actually have much to show for their lofty ideas.

                        They try to make them sound utopian but they seem like they would actually cause dystopian side-effects. Intelligent Agents already exist - they're called human beings - but people like Gates want to replace them with software. And the Metaverse is just a less convenient and more proprietary version of the Internet that is quite literally copied out of a dystopian science fiction novel.

                        4 votes
        2. mtset
          Link Parent
          Sure! But lots of other people were, too; the difference is that most of them didn't get as lucky.

          He wasn’t just lucky, he was really smart about the software business.

          Sure! But lots of other people were, too; the difference is that most of them didn't get as lucky.

          5 votes
        3. Akir
          Link Parent
          Honestly, I just wish that people took good journalists more seriously. Because when they come up with a story, they don't just give you the facts; they go to the experts to verify that they're...

          Honestly, I just wish that people took good journalists more seriously. Because when they come up with a story, they don't just give you the facts; they go to the experts to verify that they're coming up with the correct conclusions. But people are dumb and will listen to whatever familliar face tells them to do rather than listen to a qualified expert they've never seen before.

          At the end of the day we're just cavemen; we base our world around the stories we tell ourselves and we'll only trust the storytellers in our tribe.

          1 vote
      3. [3]
        lou
        Link Parent
        Nothing wrong with strong criticism, I'm just bored out of my mind of "Gatespanic". You're fine, please carry on.

        Nothing wrong with strong criticism, I'm just bored out of my mind of "Gatespanic". You're fine, please carry on.

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          spctrvl
          Link Parent
          Yeah, one of the worst parts about "Gatespanic" if we're understanding it in the same way is that it blunts and tarnishes (by association) legitimate criticism.

          Yeah, one of the worst parts about "Gatespanic" if we're understanding it in the same way is that it blunts and tarnishes (by association) legitimate criticism.

          4 votes
      4. [13]
        lou
        Link Parent
        Yeah, seems Iike a fallacious argument for sure. The proposition "we do a number of things which are more dangerous than X" does not imply "therefore, we should do X". That's quite absurd. A lot...

        Yeah, seems Iike a fallacious argument for sure. The proposition "we do a number of things which are more dangerous than X" does not imply "therefore, we should do X". That's quite absurd. A lot of people do bungie jumping, that doesn't mean they should also start smoking.

        1 vote
        1. [12]
          Atvelonis
          Link Parent
          I see your point, but Gates is primarily suggesting that the risk we perceive in COVID vs. driving (for example) is disproportionate. By extension, upending your life to address the less risky...

          I see your point, but Gates is primarily suggesting that the risk we perceive in COVID vs. driving (for example) is disproportionate. By extension, upending your life to address the less risky factor—but not the more risky one—misses the point of evaluating risk through statistics in the first place.

          If someone feels threatened enough by COVID to avoid contact with their (vaccinated and boosted) social circle, it's reasonable that they also shouldn't drive, they shouldn't eat much red meat, and they definitely shouldn't smoke. Making these changes isn't always financially or logistically realistic, but it's more reasonable to stop doing more dangerous activities than less dangerous ones if you want to minimize risk.

          Gates' frustration stems from an observation that many (mostly left-leaning, city-dwelling, internet-overusing) people are not reacting to COVID this way. Instead, they continue to radically overestimate the danger of COVID and underestimate that of their other behaviors—some of which, like driving, have become significantly more dangerous over the past two years even as the risk of COVID has dramatically fallen.

          I can't blame people for being scared of COVID. Disease is frightening, and this one has been so heavily enmeshed in partisan debates that "wearing a mask" has become part of many people's political identity, and so the nuances of public health precautions disappear entirely. Either you're constantly masking and avoiding gatherings like a good citizen or you're literally and single-handedly "committing genocide," to quote a friend from social media last week. I understand how they reached that conclusion, but it's a bit dramatic.

          It would be callous to tell people to just "suck it up" and forget about COVID, but it's similarly unconstructive to focus on COVID at the expense of our society's equally or more significant causes of death. Obesity correlates with heart disease; pollution with pulmonary disease, and respiratory conditions like cancer; and terrible road infrastructure with fatal traffic collisions. Lockdowns shatter social circles and cause tangible psychological damage; long-term masking probably does too, but feeling overwhelmingly isolated and depressed because you can no longer properly hear people or read facial cues isn't as visible, so it's not a popular argument.

          Gates' interview is easy to pick at because he isn't doing a serious statistical analysis (Levy isn't either). But nitpicking the statistics in this particular article is less important than recognizing that any public health decisions we make are going to adversely affect large swaths of people. Vaccination and treatments address the greatest causes of death from COVID; remaining practices are complicated and therefore less universally beneficial.

          5 votes
          1. [7]
            Adys
            Link Parent
            This so much. I just cannot get behind all these arguments to reinstate mandatory masking / social distancing etc measures, because they are not free, and they are nowhere near cheap. "You just...

            Lockdowns shatter social circles and cause tangible psychological damage; long-term masking probably does too, but feeling overwhelmingly isolated and depressed because you can no longer properly hear people or read facial cues isn't as visible, so it's not a popular argument.

            This so much.

            I just cannot get behind all these arguments to reinstate mandatory masking / social distancing etc measures, because they are not free, and they are nowhere near cheap.

            "You just get to see your friends less" -- My friends were the only thing that prevented my suicide these past two years. This isn't about boo-hooing missing a friday night watching football over a beer or something. I get it. I was an introvert before. I'm no extrovert now, but I have grown to need a hefty dose of social in my life.

            "It's just some basic precautions" -- No. It's a mindset. I, like several others I know of, have lost friends and loved ones not to the disease itself, but due to them becoming overly paranoid and cautious, turning themselves into hermits. People who aren't even at risk, and aren't with anybody who is.

            I have seen this discussion time and time again here on Tildes and elsewhere, and without fail, frustratingly, it's always the people least affected by such measures who are ready to call everybody else selfish for being against them.
            There was a good argument that people not respecting the rules and guidelines were selfish during the pandemic. But it's neither absolute nor binary... that argument made less and less sense over time, and now is absolutely untrue.

            I would be selfish if I weren't taking every precaution when hanging out with highly at risk people. But I am not selfish for not doing that in day-to-day life, 2.5 years in, now that we have a vaccinated population, treatments, hospitals ready to receive people, and a much less severe variant in circulation.

            And IMO, it is the definition of selfish to demand that a majority of people suffer (economically, socially, mentally) for an indefinite amount of time, to offer slightly better protection to a very small minority of people.

            I feel kind of exasperated pointing this out, though, because most people here already know all this, and the very few who disagree simply do not see the equation that way. They refuse to see the cost of the measures. It's very easy to say "it's just money" when you have money. It's very easy to avoid going out when you're already an introvert. It's very easy to stop being social when you aren't looking to date. And it's much easier to stop seeing other people, when you don't live alone and doing so won't send you into a spiral of loneliness and depression.

            8 votes
            1. [2]
              skybrian
              Link Parent
              I think in this discussion we might not be taking into account that there are a variety of different situations where different calls could be made. For example, going grocery shopping usually not...

              I think in this discussion we might not be taking into account that there are a variety of different situations where different calls could be made.

              For example, going grocery shopping usually not a social occasion, so wearing a mask there doesn't seem like that big deal now that we're used to it. It helps the most cautious who have to go shopping too. Visiting friends? We are far past the days of real lockdowns, and what you do privately is your business.

              Plane flights and other public transportation seem like other situations where high-risk people might need to be there and it isn't all that social anyway.

              Meanwhile, masks aren't all that practical in restaurants, and I'd guess high-risk people aren't going to eat indoors at a restaurant anyway. It can be avoided because it's not a necessity; even if you don't cook there is takeout and prepared food from a variety of places.

              Larger events are a tougher call, depending on what they are. I think we're past the point of objecting that people are having weddings and funerals?

              4 votes
              1. mtset
                Link Parent
                I think this is a great point (though I disagree about weddings and funerals; any large gathering has to be handled extremely carefully to be of reasonable risk imo). When I comes to restaurants,...

                I think this is a great point (though I disagree about weddings and funerals; any large gathering has to be handled extremely carefully to be of reasonable risk imo). When I comes to restaurants, I simply don't expect to eat out in the winter; instead I do takeout or order delivery.

                To be clear, I hate masks. I find them stuffy, they make me sweat, and they make it hard to understand people. But, I think the best option is the development of more advanced forms of face protection, like durable transparent respirators with replaceable filters, rather than just giving up on masking.

                We can keep people safe without destroying our social lives. It's adaptation, not annihilation.

                4 votes
            2. [4]
              mtset
              Link Parent
              I think this is is a distillation of the disagreement, yeah. What's your threshold? What are disabled people's lives worth to you?

              it is the definition of selfish to demand that a majority of people suffer (economically, socially, mentally) for an indefinite amount of time, to offer slightly better protection to a very small minority of people.

              I think this is is a distillation of the disagreement, yeah.

              What's your threshold? What are disabled people's lives worth to you?

              1 vote
              1. [3]
                Adys
                Link Parent
                I wasn't flippant when I said my friends saved me from suicide recently. Being able to see them was very much a requirement. I would have, quite simply, died due to mental health complications had...
                • Exemplary

                I wasn't flippant when I said my friends saved me from suicide recently. Being able to see them was very much a requirement. I would have, quite simply, died due to mental health complications had 2020's strictness continued into 2021, or had 2022 not significantly improved on 2021 itself.

                Thing is, I'm not alone in this. Maybe I'm at an extreme, but mental health damage from the pandemic has been rampant. And even though I survived it, I am still dealing with the complications today. Study after study has been coming out, talking about exactly this in some demographic or other, such as students revealing how depressed they have been during the remote learning period, or young people not being able to be as social as before, more people being single than ever, etc. I'm certain you've seen it.

                I'll tell you what a disabled person's life is worth to me: Exactly the same as a non-disabled person's life. So this is just the trolley problem, except that the trolley is going to hit one at-risk person, and you are going around, asking people to hit the switch it so it hits ten non-at-risk people, and being frustrated not understanding why people don't want to do this.

                This has a cost. This is what I tried to convey. What you see as free, has a cost, and I want you to really try to imagine that cost, put yourself in the shoes of millions of people who might not be as free as you are to drop social life for extended periods of time.

                You still see this as "Those bloody young'uns, they would rather drink and party even if it kills my boyfriend", forgetting that it's not about partying, but about living. About doing something more than spending months in a row watching Netflix and having groceries delivered. About, I dunno, meeting the future parent of your children for example.

                If you know me at all, you'll know I readily give my life to others. I have, for example, dedicated the past three months of my life to contribute to a fight, in a war that is by no rights mine (I might not post in the megathreads much anymore, but I'm still regularly volunteering, donating, educating and helping any way I can, and the war consumes a significant part of my week).
                So take it from me when I say: Nobody in the world has any right to ask for others to give their life to fight for somebody else's sake. Now, this goes both ways of course, and I also have no right to ask your loved one or my loved one to give their literal life "so I can go out". So... neither group can ask for each other's lives, and we're just back to raw numbers: Most people are protected, most unprotected people can be treated and survive, the disease is not that deadly anymore.

                I'm sorry. It sucks having to make this tradeoff. It sucks that your boyfriend's life is at risk, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. It sucks that one of the people I love the most in this world almost died just two fucking days ago, and still very well might. (And by the way, I won't share her name, but if you are somewhat into mental/physical health communities, there is a good chance you know her)

                But you're asking for too much.

                8 votes
                1. [3]
                  Comment deleted by author
                  Link Parent
                  1. [2]
                    Adys
                    Link Parent
                    Benefit of the doubt. If you truly understood the implications and cost of what you're asking for (such as elsethread where you talk about weddings and funerals still being unreasonable), then I...

                    Why do you think I see that is as free?

                    Benefit of the doubt. If you truly understood the implications and cost of what you're asking for (such as elsethread where you talk about weddings and funerals still being unreasonable), then I don't believe you'd be asking for it.

                    But I do need you to understand what you're saying.

                    I do. And it's not like I'm only on one of those rails, I'm very much on both.

                    Now this is going to sound insensitive, and maybe it is. I don't want to tell you how to live your life; you do you, and this is just an opinion: I think both you and your boyfriend need to go through some serious risk assessment thinking.

                    I would readily bet that this person I mentioned upthread is at least as much if not more at risk than your boyfriend -- she is immunosuppressed, has severe asthma, weak lungs after multiple lung infections in her life, etc. Just about the only thing she has going for her is that she got vaccinated (and suffered extreme side effects for two months because of it).
                    She is obviously very careful, and even quite a bit introverted, the lockdowns haven't affected her spirit much. And still, she makes choices that it sounds like you yourself wouldn't make. Having talked to her, I know it's partly due to some amount of fatalism: It's not just Covid. Pollution, second-hand smoke, flu, all of these can send (and have sent) her to the hospital. She is used to making tradeoffs, and sometimes being on the losing side of a tradeoff and dealing with the consequences.
                    I could talk about her all day. I love and admire her ever so much. Point is, the equations she's dealing with now look a lot like the equations she was dealing with before the pandemic, and really not that much has changed except that the world has if anything adapted to her more than before.

                    I can't speak for her any more than I can speak for you or your SO, but I see the difference in attitude, and I think there's maybe some QOL available for the two of you.

                    8 votes
                    1. mtset
                      Link Parent
                      This is a valid and somewhat heartening perspective. I don't agree with you, but I do see where you're coming from.

                      This is a valid and somewhat heartening perspective. I don't agree with you, but I do see where you're coming from.

                      4 votes
          2. [2]
            vord
            Link Parent
            I'm gonna beat this one particular drum until I die: People in dense urban areas were not overestimating the risk of COVID. I'd say they likely still not, given how we're on yet another uptick....

            Gates' frustration stems from an observation that many (mostly left-leaning, city-dwelling, internet-overusing) people are not reacting to COVID this way. Instead, they continue to radically overestimate the danger of COVID

            I'm gonna beat this one particular drum until I die: People in dense urban areas were not overestimating the risk of COVID. I'd say they likely still not, given how we're on yet another uptick.

            When I was growing up in a semi-rural area, my entire high school had something like 700 students. In a semi-urban school district, where I spent most of the pandemic, there were over 5000. Covering roughly the same geographic surface area.

            I certainly had my share of shadenfreud when the urban areas had low daily cases per capita while rural areas were being absolutely ravaged as I was being told how city folk are taking it too seriously.

            4 votes
            1. Atvelonis
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              I'm referring to the present. It was reasonable to be more wary of COVID in the past, especially pre-vaccine. I was in New York when the pandemic first hit. We were not overreacting then; there...

              I'm referring to the present. It was reasonable to be more wary of COVID in the past, especially pre-vaccine. I was in New York when the pandemic first hit. We were not overreacting then; there were morgues in the streets. I hardly left my home except to eat and run for an entire year—but I don't have to live that way now.

              The March study in the Times piece I linked earlier is an empirical example of how the "very liberal" (as Leonhardt puts it), who tend to be urban, vastly overestimate the risk of COVID. Today, with good vaccines and treatments readily available, it's untrue to say that 47% (!) of "very liberal" Americans are personally at "great risk" of COVID. It's especially untrue to say that 48% (!!) of their children are. Young people are also more likely to be "very worried" about COVID than seniors are, despite being 65x less likely to die from it. Gates' point is that their collective risk assessment does not reflect today's reality, and I have to agree.

              When a rural conservative mocks urbanites for getting vaccinated, they're making a different argument than an inoculated city-dweller who, in mid-2022, wants to take their friends to dinner without wearing a mask.

              Cases have gradually risen since early April, but hospitalizations have increased at a much slower rate. The percent of hospitalized people in the ICU has decreased (15% to 11%) even as total hospitalizations have increased—treatments against COVID work. Importantly, deaths have consistently dropped (see "U.S. trends" and sort by "Last 90 days"), and relatively few of those are from vaccinated people.

              Today's upticks are unlike the spikes in 2020–21. We have the medicine to handle them better now, and public policy should match this reality. I encourage individuals to loosen up too, though I respect anyone's decision to play it safe if the drawbacks of isolating and masking for them are worth feeling protected from infection. COVID is still scary, and introducing unnecessary anxiety into your life is not good either way.

              5 votes
          3. [2]
            lou
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            The problem with the argument is that human beings are not logic gates (no pun intended). It's not like we can shut down one valve and promptly redirect the steam elsewhere. There are many facts...

            The problem with the argument is that human beings are not logic gates (no pun intended). It's not like we can shut down one valve and promptly redirect the steam elsewhere. There are many facts to our risk assessment that are not easily reduced to a simple calculation.

            A pool in the backyard is more dangerous than having a gun in the house. On the other hand, pools are super fun. Cars are pretty dangerous, but as a species we collectively decided that their usefulness outweighs their risks. The odds of a kid getting kidnapped are very little, but some people take their kids to school everyday anyway, just because losing a kid would be so shatteringly painful. And so on.

            We kinda decide that some risks are acceptable based on both objective and subjective reasons, and that's the kind of reasoning that "data oriented" guys often fail to understand, and even ridicule.

            3 votes
            1. Atvelonis
              Link Parent
              Yes, you're right. I rarely think about risk statistics in my day-to-day life, and I don't think anyone has to. With that said, when people advocate for sweeping public health mandates on behalf...

              Yes, you're right. I rarely think about risk statistics in my day-to-day life, and I don't think anyone has to. With that said, when people advocate for sweeping public health mandates on behalf of others, they're obligated to be utilitarian about their decisions. We aren't robots—our emotions are not things to be ignored to see "the truth," but rather lenses through which we can understand the world. Recognizing how our natural responses to threats affect our judgment is useful because it lets us keep those lenses without becoming overwhelmed by any particular one. It's those emotions and those qualitative trade-offs that make us human.

              I have a bit of a literary background and I've always been more moved by arguments rooted in subjective, experiential inquiry than data, as compelling as the latter can be. Statistical analysis is a tool to cross-reference with individual perspectives. I mainly find myself frustrated with our hyper-fixation on the dangers of COVID not because it tends to be statistically misleading (though it does), but rather because it perpetuates an environment of endless anxiety, fear, and isolation in our already fractured society. Feeling scared is fine; taking extra precautions is fine. The problem is that the most intense subset of people in this category expect everyone else to reach the same subjective conclusions as them—not only that it's irresponsible to eat at a restaurant, but that no one should be allowed to; and that those who don't share this opinion are bad people.

              "We must do this to save lives" is a convincing message, especially when you say it loudly, so it's easy to go along with it. I get these perspectives, especially coming from people with extra risk factors. I just think it's disingenuous to leave it at that, as if mandating masks or closing schools or limiting the size of social gatherings is unambiguously going to rescue society from peril. Sometimes it isn't.

              4 votes
  3. skybrian
    Link
    I guess Levy really caught Gates on a bad day, or he's losing touch, or something. There are some good points he's making, but I'd have expected him to have a better grasp on the statistics.

    I guess Levy really caught Gates on a bad day, or he's losing touch, or something. There are some good points he's making, but I'd have expected him to have a better grasp on the statistics.

    5 votes