Archives for posts with tag: Vaccine

Chapter 1. Explaining prediction.

I’ve trained to be an engineer. And practiced being one.
Then I felt the need to understand. And studied sociology.
That’s how I learned, the hard way, the difference between ‘hard’ science and ‘soft’ science.
Between ‘bona fide’ science and ‘bogus’ science…

Those of us still convinced that soft science is bogus have yet to grasp the whole meaning of ‘science’.
A collection of ‘special’ data, a ‘special’ method of gathering data and a ‘special’ state of mind.

We all know what ‘scientific data’ and ‘scientific method’ mean.
But there is almost no talk about ‘scientific state of mind’.
Most people consider that ‘scientific thinking’ is solelly about applying the scientific method when dealing with the ‘reality’. With what happens ‘outside’ of us.
Outside of our individual consciences…

Historically, science – the concept of science, had sprung up in the minds of people concerned primarily with physics and chemistry.
Hence the subsidiary concept of ‘consistency’.
Data can be considered to be scientific only if it had been gathered in a ‘consistent’ manner.
If by applying the same method, in the same circumstances, the end results will be the same – regardless of who had happened to be at the helm of the experiment.
And a method can be considered to be scientific only if it produces the same data whenever it is applyed, in the same circumstances, by no matter whom.

I’m sure that, by now, at least some of you have figured out what I’m driving at.
The main difference between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ science is, of course, related to the relative inconsistency of the data yielded by the ‘soft’ sciences. This being the reason for which some people cannot even accept the ‘scientific’ nature of the soft sciences…

Hence the need to discuss about the ‘scientific’ ‘state of mind’…
Let me start by pointing out the fact that we, people, are rationalizers.
We pretend to be rational, true, but in reality we are nothing but very astute rationalizers.
So astute that we are not even aware of the fact.
We are so convinced of our rational nature that we are fooling ourselves.

Please read about this subject by hitting the link below if you are not familiar with the concept of rationalization before proceeding.
https://cushmanlab.fas.harvard.edu/docs/rationalization_is_rational.pdf

Accepting that we are deep enough into rationalization that we need to pay special attention when trying to be objective is the first step towards attaining a scientific state of mind.
The second, and just as important, step being the respect we need to extend towards our peers. Towards our fellow experimenters.

Changing tack – and approaching ‘scientific state of mind’ from another angle, I might try to describe it as a ‘work in progress’.
A never ending attempt at self improvement made by someone fully aware of the fact that they’ll never get there. Yet still striving towards that goal.
A never ending attempt made by somebody who knows they’ll never get ‘there’ yet they continue to encourage others to go further and further up that road.
A never ending attempt made by people who know they’ll never get there yet they respectfully help each-other towards their common goal.

And now, that I’ve done my best to explain what I mean by ‘scientific state of mind’ let me delve in the main subject.
The real difference between soft and hard science.

By their very nature, hard sciences are defined by the fact that an explanation constitutes a very good prediction.
If you are capable of explaining the Earth rotation around the Sun you are also able to compute where the Earth will be 10 seconds from now. As well as ten centuries from now…
If you are capable of explaining radio-activity you are also able to build an atomic bomb.
By understanding how DNA works we have been able to come up with a mRNA vaccine against the SarsCOV-2 virus.
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/mrna.html

The problem with soft sciences being that in their case, explanations – no matter how precise, cannot predict much.
We know why a maniac behaves like one – because …, but we don’t know what a maniac will actually do. Nor when…
We know that a free market works better than a monopoly but we cannot agree upon how free a market should be. Nor can we agree upon what a ‘free market’ really looks like…
We know what will eventually happen to an empire – it will fall, because of ‘negative selection’, but we never know exactly when and how that will happen… nor what will occur between the establishment of the empire and its eventual demise.

Savvy?

Karl Popper had described science as a (virtual) place where things happen like this:

Some guy has an inkling. Studies it and gathers a lot of information on the subject.
Based on that information, develops a hypothesis. Then attempts to prove it.
After being satisfied with how much proof they had found, the hypothesis is declared a theory. And published as such. Along with all pertinent evidence. For all those interested to see.

So that all those interested to be able to replicate the experience.
To be able to retrace the proving process. To certify its validity.

And for all those interested to be able to find any proof to the contrary!
So that, as soon as that proof had been found – and declared acceptable, the theory to be considered false. Or, at least, incomplete.

The first example which comes to my mind being that the simple existence of Einstein’s Relativity had proven that Newton’s Physics was incomplete….

Fast forward to our days.
To our raging Covid-19 pandemic.

When vaccines are already available and where there are people who refuse to be vaccinated.

The vaccine was supposed to protect us.
From becoming infected.
From needing to go to the hospital.
From dying. From ending up suffocating alone…

But people continue be infected. Even after receiving the vaccine.
People continue to be admitted to the hospital.
And people continue to die. Even after receiving the vaccine.

Wouldn’t all these evidence strongly suggest, scientifically speaking, that the vaccine is useless?
‘Useless’, to say the least?

Wouldn’t it be actually rational to frame the situation in these terms?

Well, according to Popper’s reasoning, the first vaccinated individual becoming ill had been ample enough proof of the fact that the vaccine was not 100 % foolproof. That it isn’t fail-proof!
The first vaccinated individual being admitted to the hospital had been ample enough proof that the vaccine is no absolute shield against any of us who has been infected will ever have to go to the hospital.
The first vaccinated person who had died with Covid-19 had been ample enough proof that the vaccine will not protect all of us from dying after becoming infected with this virus.

And the fact that so many of us continue to refuse to be vaccinated is ample proof of the fact that reasonable should trump rational. Yet it still doesn’t….
Of the fact that too many of us continue to consider that their short term/self serving interests are more important than other people’s lives.
And of the fact that too many of us continue to ignore how vaccines work.

The key aspect here being the last!
People continue to ignore how vaccines work simply because of the huge amount of disinformation which is being peddled on the internet right now.
It’s not the ‘refuseniks’ who put their short term/self serving interests in front and above the lives of innocent people!
It’s those who have initiated, and continue to drive, the fake-news process who will be eventually determined as having been the root-cause of the excess mortality we’re currently experiencing.

When?
Hopefully, after a reasonable amount of time.
If enough of us start behaving rationally… In a comprehensively rational manner…

In a truly scientific manner!

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/popper/

Someone asked me a few months ago:
‘These guys who spread misleading information on the internet, whether out of sheer stupidity or out of personal interest, will at some point understand how many people they have killed. Directly or indirectly.
How will they feel? In that moment…’

Until then, none of my vaccinated acquaintances have kicked the bucket.
Nor seen the inside of any hospital… after being infected with Covid.
Among those who have not been vaccinated… the situation is somewhat different… Although the unvaccinated are, among the people I’m personally acquainted to, about 4 times less frequent than the others, 8 of them are missing already. All 8 of them are no longer with us after having been diagnosed with Covid.

I hope you’ll have a ‘light’ conscience when we’ll arrive at the end of this mess.

For those of you who don’t know about the most recent controversy on the internet, let me sum it up.

Joe Rogan is a comedian.

Rather experienced in creating controversy. Controversy is good for the ratings, isn’t it?
For example, in September 18, 2020, “Joe Rogan apologized for spreading misinformation about Oregon fires“.

Well, at that time Rogan had just moved his podcast – from September 1, 2020, on Spotify. After receiving $100 million for a “multi-year licensing” deal.

If you don’t know, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic.
Caused by SARS Cov2, an airborne virus which kills people. 5,682,971 worldwide when I last checked.

Joe Rogan, the comedian, thought he had to cover the subject. So he had invited a controversial figure, Dr. Robert Malone, for an interview.
The interview had become viral. But the ‘information’ being peddled by Dr.Malone had provoked the indignation of his fellow physicians.


A few days later, Neil Young – then followed by Joni Mithchell, asked Spotify to choose between him and Rogan.
Understandably, Spotify had chosen to keep Rogan.
But the row didn’t end there.
Even sites like the financially minded Sport Bible have noticed that “Joe Rogan Has Lost Spotify A Staggering $2 Billion In Market Value In Less Than A Week
So Spotify announced a change in policy and Rogan issued another apology.

As usual in this kind of circumstances, the netizens have taken sides.
Some manifest their indignation against the capitalists who make money by spreading false information.
Others manifest their indignation against the ‘cancel culture’ which limits the freedom of expression of those who contradict the opinions held by the intransigent majority.

As usual in this kind of circumstances, I try to explore alternative venues of looking at what’s going on.
Let me remind those of you who are not familiar with the Romanian language that ‘Nici-chiar-asa’ means ‘not so fast’ (or ‘don’t over do it’) in my native language.

So.
Why would a huge number of people – the Malone interview went “viral”, attempt to get information about a raging pandemic by watching a stand-up comedy show? Hosted by a “comedian” who recently had to issue an apology for things which he had said in one of his shows…
Those people had been mesmerized by the ‘past experience’ of Dr. Malone? “Who touts himself as one of the architects of mRNA technology”….
Maybe… but those people shouldn’t have googled Dr. Malone’s name before sharing the interview? To their like minded brethren?
Before making it viral? They would have learned that Dr. Malone had already been banned from Twitter for spreading misinformation…

‘Those people do not believe that media venues should restrict the freedom of people speaking up their minds’…

Then whatever preventive measure are put in place by the likes of Spotify will amount to exactly nothing!

We need a different approach.

The way I see it, it makes more sense to tax those who don’t want to get a jab than to bribe people to accept the vaccine.
The vaccinated individual enjoys the benefits, the jab is already paid for by the community… and the community, as a whole, is safer.
You don’t want to be jabbed, for whatever reasons, you should pay for the privilege.

After all, this is a matter of personal choice.

There are three kinds of personal choice which impact the wider community. Regardless of who covers the financial costs of healthcare, people being sick is a burden shouldered by the entire society.

Eating too much.
It can have a whole series of consequences but most of them are of a ‘personal’ nature. You can be a bad example for your kid but that’s about all you can do to negatively impact the health of others through eating too much. Except for the financial implications, of course.

Smoking.
Still a personal choice. But the consequences of your bad habit directly affect those who happen to be around you when you exercise your ‘right’. Smoke travels freely…

“My body, my choice.”
Refusing to ‘put experimental substances into my body’ is, again, a personal choice.
But getting sick with Covid has far wider consequences for the wide community than smoking. Let alone the fact that smoke is visible while the virus is not.
Smoking in a plane won’t give a lung cancer to each of the passengers present but a person infected with Covid breathing inside such a cramped place can directly infect many. And god only knows how many more after the passengers reach their final destinations …

Since the above mentioned decision of the Supreme Court – that government should not tell ‘the people’ what to do with their bodies (unless federal money is involved) – things are getting murkier.
Smoking seats might return on planes. Smoking tables in pubs.
And who knows what else…

“Yet although as a tennis player Mr Djokovic’s vaccine hesitancy is exceptional, as a Serb it is not. Despite there being little shortage of vaccines in Serbia, where he is from, just 45% of adults have been double-jabbed. Meanwhile, the country has been battered by the disease. According to The Economist‘s tracker Serbia suffered the second-highest number of excess deaths in the world per head of population. With as much clout off the court as on it, Mr Djokovic’s public hesitation to take a life-saving vaccine may well be costing the lives of his countrymen.”

There are two ways in which we may acquire information.
The hard way and the reasonable way.
By ‘immersion’ or by learning.
By ‘getting stronger if lucky enough to survive’ or by making sense of what had happened to others.

„The pandemic’s transition toward becoming a disease that the world can manage more easily and learn to live with.
“Really?!?It’s the disease which needs to become something we might be able to learn how to live with?!?””

„That’s how pandemics work. Like the 1918 flu…”

„Well…The virus itself is being passively selected by the naturally occurring ‘evolutionary forces’.
We, as a conscious species, act more or less ‘uncoordinatedly’. We develop vaccines, determine that masks are good for us and then refuse to use them to their full potential.
Doesn’t make much sense, evolutionary speaking…”

On the other hand, the article is interesting. Like so many other times, the content is ‘somewhat’ different from the click-bait title/presentation….

And, maybe, I should remember you that ‘nicichiarasa’ is the Romanian word for ‘don’t overstep it’, …

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/12/31/national/covid-endgame-omicron

According to Charles Darwin, natural evolution is the process which has brought us, animal beings, to where we are now. Each to its own place.

According to some, evolution is about ‘the survival of the fittest’.
According to Ernst Mayr, What Evolution Is, evolution is about ‘the demise of the unfit’.

It’s up to us to ‘choose sides’.
For no other reason than the fact that Darwin’s evolution was driven by ‘accidental’ changes in the environment. The species which happened to live ‘under the weather’ had to adapt to those changes. Or to ‘exit stage right’!
While nowadays we have to make do with consequences resulting from our own decisions…

“Dr. Jack Lyons remembers the pandemic’s early days when grateful communities banged pots and pans to honor frontline health care workers.
But now, faced with hostility just for trying to save his patients’ lives, he says that, sadly, those days are long gone.”

“Now health care workers fighting on the front lines of the pandemic are also coming face to face with patients who dismiss and even threaten them over how they are being treated for the virus.
“Folks act as if they can come in the hospital and request any certain therapy they want or conversely decline any therapy they want with the idea being that somehow they can pick and choose and direct their therapy. And it doesn’t work,” Lyons told CNN from the CentraCare hospital he works at in St. Cloud, Minnesota.””

“They insult your intelligence, they insult your ability, and most hurtful, they say that by not using these therapies you are intentionally trying to harm the people we’ve given everything to save,” Lyons said.”
“About 70% of the patients in Lyons’ ICU are sick with Covid-19, and almost all of them are unvaccinated.”

Evolution happening under our own eyes. The ‘pot and pan bangers’ got jabbed and no longer have to go to the ICU. Not with Covid, anyway.

Hence the likes of Dr. Lynch are left with the Covid deniers… who already know the ‘right’ treatment…

Deflated health care workers and desperate patients clash over alternative Covid treatments
https://edition.cnn.com/2021/12/24/us/doctors-patients-threats-coronavirus-treatments/index.html

Isn’t it rather strange?

Health care professionals who are not yet vaccinated against Covid-19?
Teachers who are not yet vaccinated against Covid-19?

OK, I understand there are some people who cannot go near a vaccine. For medical reasons. But they are few. And, anyway, most of them do not ‘belong’ to this line of work.

But the rest? What is it which prevents them from getting the jab?
The ‘mandatory’ part?
Why do I care about it being mandatory if it saves my life?

Am I being oppressed for having to breathe in order to live?

Am I feeling oppressed for having to work – as in being useful for other people, in order to lead a decent life?

Is this the real reason for which so many of us, teachers and health care professionals included, refuse the vaccine?

‘I am not going to sacrifice my health for the misconceptions and irrational fears of others.’

I don’t care about anybody else but me?!?

Only time can judge this.

Which was smarter.
To accept the vaccine – and contribute to the general well being, assuming the non-0 risk involved.
Or to weather the storm. Hoping the pandemic will die on its own. And/or that enough of the others will get the jab.

But to find out what time will have decided, each of us must live. Must survive the pandemic.

And here’s the catch.
The strongest amongst us will survive. Without a mask. Without a vaccine.
While many of those who didn’t have to die will have gone under.

But what kind of a world will that be?

Dog eat dog?

Are we OK with that?
Is this what we want to leave behind?

%d bloggers like this: