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The WHO walks back its statement that asymptomatic COVID-19 transmission is “very rare”

Yesterday, the World Health Organization walked back its statement that asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19 is “very rare.” This was after COVID-19 deniers had had a field day using that statement to attack social distancing, contact tracing, and mask wearing. It was a science communication disaster.

Yesterday, I wrote about how the World Health Organization’s (WHO) head of emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, had stated during a press conference that the spread of COVID-19 by asymptomatic people is uncommon and that asymptomatic people aren’t driving the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the beta coronavirus responsible for COVID-19. In fact, she went even beyond that, having said, “From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual. It’s very rare.” The effect was immediate; COVID-19 deniers seized on the story to cast doubt on the need for social distancing and mask wearing.

Unsurprisingly, the after a tsunami of criticism by epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists on social media, the next day, WHO walked back Dr. Van Kerkove’s statement, convening a special news conference to “clarify”:

Calling the controversy “a misunderstanding,” Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the WHO’s emerging disease and zoonosis unit, said that during the news conference Monday, she was trying to respond to a journalist’s question when she said asymptomatic transmission was “very rare.”

“I wasn’t stating a policy of WHO or anything like that,” she said. “We do know that some people who are asymptomatic, or some people who do not have symptoms, can transmit the virus on.”

It was not the “intent of WHO to say there is a new or different policy,” added Mike Ryan, head of emergency programs for WHO. “There is still too much unknown about this virus and still too much unknown about its transmission dynamics.”

While asymptomatic transmission does occur, no one knows for sure how frequently it happens. Studies and models have suggested many of those infected never show symptoms. And it remains an open question whether they are a large force driving transmission.

Some countries using contact tracing to work backward from confirmed cases have not found many instances of asymptomatic spread, WHO officials noted. At the same time, WHO officials acknowledged on Tuesday some modeling studies have suggested as much as 41 percent of transmission may be due to asymptomatic people.

As I said last time, WHO really needs to up its science communication game. I noted that the same thing happened in January, pre-pandemic, when antivaxxers took advantage of a live stream of 16 hours of video of the WHO Global Vaccine Safety Summit held in December to cherry pick statements to cast doubt on vaccine safety and using them to claim that the WHO had “questioned the safety of vaccines” when it most assuredly had not. No doubt the WHO thought that being completely transparent and streaming all those hours of video would alleviate fears about vaccines, when in reality it just produced fodder for antivaxxers to use to spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt about vaccines, something those of us who’ve been following the antivaccine movement for a long time could easily have predicted. Indeed, the walkback was so awkward that the satire site The Onion posted an article entitled WHO Walks Back Claim That Covid-19 Can Only Be Transmitted Through Locking Eyes With One True Love.

Let’s just put it this way, when your communication fail inspires The Onion to write a parody news article about it, the fail is epic, and only this will do:

Godzilla facepalm

So what went wrong at this press conference? Shannon Palus over at Slate tried to figure it out. First, she notes that there is public confusion over the terms “presymptomatic” and “asymptomatic” (as I differentiated earlier in this post), noting that there’s ample evidence that presymptomatic people readily spread COVID-19 but that it’s not so clear for those who are infected but never show clinical symptoms. She agreed that Dr. Van Kerkhove could have been clearer in her use of terminology, but she also points a finger at CNBC:

The lede of a Monday CNBC story summed up WHO’s initial declaration as “coronavirus patients without symptoms aren’t driving the spread of the virus.” The rest of the article also fails to clearly delineate between asymptomatic spread and presymptomatic spread, even at one point explicitly lumping the two terms together. This confusing article went viral, with an Ohio representative tweeting the link along with “reopen America!”

Jordan was nowhere near alone. Über-quack Mike Adams, for instance, immediately published a post entitled The WHO just obliterated every argument for mandatory vaccines or contact tracing by declaring asymptomatic carriers don’t spread COVID-19. He was basically beside himself with utter glee, writing:

Asymptomatic spread was the entire reason why world authorities demanded lockdowns, social distancing and masks, too. It was also the underlying justification for demanding mandatory vaccinations and contact tracing. After all, if the spread of coronavirus were limited to only those who obviously showed symptoms — and could therefore be easily identified and avoided — there would be no logical need for lockdowns, social distancing, masks, contact tracing or mandatory vaccines, since spreaders of the pandemic could be easily identified and avoided (or isolated with selective stay-at-home orders only for the symptomatic).

All at once, the WHO has just exploded all these narratives that were so aggressively pushed by the CDC, Democrat governors, Dr. Fauci at the White House and even the WHO itself. Now, based on the WHO’s new admission, not only should every lockdown be immediately ended; any government effort to initiate new lockdowns should be vehemently rejected as being utterly groundless and anti-science.

Now that the WHO is claiming there’s virtually no risk of catching the coronavirus from someone who isn’t showing any symptoms, mandatory vaccines are impossible to medically justify since symptomatic carriers can be easily identified and isolated from others.

He also went on to say that everyone can go back to work, with the use of low-cost contactless thermometers to monitor temperatures of workers as they enter work, (never mind that some people never have significant fever even when symptomatic with COVID-19), equating a lack of symptoms with a safe workplace. By the same “logic,” he advocated that all restaurants, bars, theaters, gyms, etc. could be safely immediately reopened at full capacity, as long as “people who sneeze or show fevers must be asked to leave, and that’s it.”

Adams, predictably, also argued that the WHO statement means that contact tracing is useless:

This WHO declaration also obliterates any argument for so-called “contact tracing.” If there’s no such thing as an asymptomatic carrier, why would we need contact tracing at all?

The whole point of contact tracing is to find people who don’t know they have the infection because they were supposedly infected by an asymptomatic carrier. But if the only people who spread the virus are those who show obvious symptoms, then everybody already knows to steer clear of that individual, and contact tracing becomes moot.

Thus, the WHO has just obliterated any argument for contact tracing, too. Will Apple and Google now remove their contact tracing apps from their mobile devices? Of course not. Those apps were never really about contact tracing in the first place… the entire sham was always a pretext for total surveillance and spying on users.

See the harm that the conflation of presymptomatic individuals (asymptomatic individuals who’ve been infected but haven’t developed COVID-19 symptoms yet) with asymptomatic individuals (those infected with COVID-19 who never develop symptoms)? Again, as I wrote yesterday, although it is possible that truly asymptomatic people might not transmit coronavirus as much as symptomatic people, there is abundant evidence that presymptomatic people can transmit coronavirus before they develop symptoms. Even if asymptomatic individuals never transmit coronavirus, contact tracing would still be very useful to slow the spread of the disease if presymptomatic people can transmit the virus before they become symptomatic.

Of course, Mike Adams, being Mike Adams, went deep into tinfoil hat territory in full conspiracy theory mode, asking if this was all a new “psyop to explode a second wave of infections,” his goal being, as is the goal of conspiracy theorists,” to cast doubt on the establishment and on current science and place your trust in his proclamations:

So there are really just two possibilities in all this:

#1) The WHO has been lying to us all along, and the real risk of coronavirus spread is practically zero.

Or #2) The WHO is lying to us now, trying to make sure we all get infected so that a second wave explodes across the globe.

Either way, it looks like the WHO can’t be trusted at all, which makes their recent announcement highly questionable. If the coronavirus can’t be spread by asymptomatic carriers, how did it explode across the Diamond Princess? How did it sneak into the USA and other countries, even as symptom checkers manned the airport arrival terminals? How did the coronavirus explode across nursing homes in New York and other areas, killing a shockingly high number of residents there? (Or, alternatively, perhaps they all really died from death-by-ventilator episodes…)

We can’t really know what to believe from the authorities anymore — not the WHO, the CDC, the FDA or of course the lying lamestream media. So the only thing we can really count on is our own immune systems, and those can be readily enhanced with simple nutritional supplements, along with healthy lifestyle choices such as avoiding inflammatory junk foods and getting plenty of sleep each night.

Unsurprisingly, grifters gonna grift. Always. Not coincidentally, Adams sells a whole line of nutritional supplements and products to help you “naturally boost your immune system.” It never occurs to him how utterly ridiculous #2 is, that the WHO would want to spark a second wave that could kill hundreds of thousands, if not millions, but it is of a piece with the conspiracy theories about Bill Gates that claim he wants to “depopulate” the planet using toxic vaccines.

His grift aside, Adams and Jordan was not the only ones, either. Far from it! All over Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, I soon saw COVID-19 deniers posting the MSNBC article that originally quoted Van Kerkhove in refutation to statements lamenting how many people are no longer social distancing or wearing masks, as if to say, “Ha ha, you suckers!” It was so bad that it led me to quip how it amused the hell out of me how many people who had been spreading conspiracy theories about the WHO and castigating it as a dupe and shill for China that’s not to be trusted had come around so suddenly to citing the organization as a font of scientific truth about COVID-19.

In the end, Palus says basically the same thing I wrote yesterday:

We know less about how asymptomatic people spread the disease. When Van Kerkhove said such transmission is “very rare,” she was apparently referring to “a small subset of studies” that look at data from contact tracing, as CNBC clarified in a follow-up story. She was not referring to models that estimates how much asymptomatic spread could be occurring. This distinction matters because contact tracing and data on asymptomatic patients is indeed lacking even though some models estimate that asymptomatic carriers may be responsible for 40 percent of transmission. (As of this writing, that story clarifying that asymptomatic patients spread the virus sits below the initial CNBC story about asymptomatic patients rarely spreading the virus in the site’s “trending now” list.)

She could have spelled this out much more clearly, yes. But another problem here is that her original remarks were quickly taken out of context. She was not telling people to rush out to the bars because they don’t have to worry about asymptomatic spread. She was making a point about where she thought large-scale efforts to find and isolate people should be focused. In any case, what she was describing “seems more of scientific than practical interest,” biostatistician Natalie Dean noted on Twitter. On an individual level, we shouldn’t change our behavior.

I’ve been saying the same thing about antivaxxers, quacks, and other science denialists for many years: Yes, they will try to distort anything you try to say in order to twist it to fit into their conspiracy theories. They do it all the time, and they are very good at it. That’s why science communicators need to know the techniques of disinformation, so that they know how not to make it so damned easy for cranks like COVID-19 deniers to succeed in doing that. You can be very sure that Dr. Van Kerkhove’s first statements about how asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19 is “very rare” will live on in conspiracy theory social media, without a mention of how the WHO walked back that statement and tried to explain that the whole thing was a misunderstanding, much as testimonials of patients who treated their cancers with quackery live on with nary a mention that they ultimately died of their disease. There was a misunderstanding here, a misunderstanding of the nature of denialists, conspiracy theorists, and science communication.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

144 replies on “The WHO walks back its statement that asymptomatic COVID-19 transmission is “very rare””

The controversy is a tempest in a teapot. This conclusion requires an adequate definition of symptomatic and asymptomatic. If a person has a flu like syndrome, and are COVID-19 positive they are clearly symptomatic. But what if a person as cold like symptoms and never seeks medical attention, but on testing are found to be positive? Clearly, if a common cold is an indication, they are infectious. But the significance of the infection is just part of the background. This is not much different than the Medieval philosophical conundrum of deriving the number of teeth of a horse from assumed philosophical truth, and answered by an uneducated peasant who said “go and count them”.

The essential question the virulence of the virus. Everything else is commentary. We know that for any pathogen there is an inoculating dose that leads to immunity without serious disease. We use this concept for vaccination. We know that or any pathogen there is a dose that induces the disease. We wash our hands to help and minimize this dose. And the size of the dose relates to the virulence o the organism.. Shigela is very virulent. A few organisms induce disease. E coli that causes travelers disease is not. Tens of thousands of organism are necessary.

The problem with COVID-19 is that we don’t know the virulence of the organism in the general population, apart from the susceptible population. To know the virulence of the organism one needs to know the infection rate. The infection rate equals all who have the virus and all who have antibodies. If one has both antibodies and the virus, the question is whether the virus is dead or alive. This information is not readily available.

The number of positives (the case infection rate) is readily published on the nightly news. This is an incomplete number. The number that is necessary is the hospitalization rate. This number is often announced as a denominator free number. Without the infection rate and the case infection rate, the virulence of the organism is not known.

Finally the most important number is the death rate. This requires the infection rate, the case infection rate to determine virulence.

This is not much different than the Medieval philosophical conundrum of deriving the number of teeth of a horse from assumed philosophical truth, and answered by an uneducated peasant who said “go and count them”.

Which, y’know, never happened. You don’t even have the canonical version right.

I’m going with 1901 for this item, but I was surprised at how much there is to learn about equine dentition.

Presumably the 1901 invention was inspired by Aristotle’s dentition observations, though.

Males have more teeth than females in the case of men, sheep, goats, and swine; in the case of other animals observations have not yet been made

@ Pathcoin 1

We know using seasonal baselines rates, average hospitalizations for respiratory diseases, deaths, etc. that we are currently way above that. So, something is going on. As for asymptomatic vs symptomatic, in reality there is a gradient. If someone has minor cold like symptoms and later has antibodies, then it was probably COVID-19. I’ve already refuted your previous comments on past exchanges; but you just don’t give up.

We know that many who die at home are not tested. Yep, probably older with comorbidities; but without COVID-19 they might have lived many more years. And there are studies showing how it spreads, how far, etc. We also know a hell of a lot about influenza, how it can infect others before symptoms and that 1/3 or more asymptomatic. So, though this is a novel virus, we do have a lot of knowledge about airborne viruses.

When human lives are at stake, I prefer to err on the side of caution. Based on what we know, SARS-CoV-2 is a really nasty microbe and had we not implemented masks and physical distancing, the death rate would have been much much higher and if we let up too soon, given history of other pandemics, it could flare up with a vengeance. Maybe not; but whose life are you willing to put at risk?

“We know that for any pathogen there is an inoculating dose that leads to immunity without serious disease. We use this concept for vaccination”

Uh, no. We use inactivated pathogens or fragments of one.

What you’re talking about is variolation, and although it’s nominally better than getting smallpox, vaccination is infinitely preferable, because there really isn’t generally a therapeutic window on a population level.

I was very happy to see a brief correction on (IIRC) CNN last night saying that the initial reports were wrong.

I would give some slack for acting at a time of intense pressure and under a lot of attack, but honestly, it’s exactly in such times that they need to be most thoughtful in communicating, and they’re the ones trying to advise others on this.

At least they spoke up to correct it.

WHO is an international organization, limited by member states, so they don’t have the independence and independent resources needed; but, despite this, without them we would be in much worse trouble. They are the only organization that coordinates data, reports, etc. from all over the world, including stations in numerous places that collect up-to-date data on infections, etc. If you read the recent book about WHO it makes clear the difficulties dealing with powerful nations, threatening to withhold funds if certain policies implemented or not and the nation most responsible, the U.S.

WHO corrected any misleading claims almost immediately. On the other hand, we can look at Trump, despite being warned in January, ignored the scientists, not once; but over and over again. Credible accounts find that had he implemented the lockdown just two weeks earlier, 2/3 of the lives lost would have been saved. He did ban travel from China, well, not exactly, Chinese couldn’t enter U.S.; but returning Americans could without quarantine. And he even exported PPE. In addition, he publicly began telling us the virus wouldn’t reach the U.S., then it wasn’t all that dangerous, then over and over that we have it under control.

So, WHO corrects/clarifies immediately and the U.S. government’s response goes on for months. Also, it was Trump who shut down White House Pandemic advisory committee, cut funds to CDC and WHO before pandemic, ignored the Pandemic Protocol developed by Obama in 2016. No ones perfect; but compared to our government WHO is a role model. And one last thing, the AIDS pandemic that has taken millions of lives is mainly our responsibility. When AIDS first appeared our government did nothing, then later when the WHO developed programs to prevent its spread in Africa, we threatened cutting funding in a protest against handing out condoms. So far more lives have been lost, both from AIDs, then COVID-19 from actions and inactions by the U.S.

Reference:

Marcos Cueto, Theodore M. Brown and Elizabeth Fee (2019). The World Health Organization: A History. Cambridge University Press.

I appreciate how you, Orac, don’t censor posts when you have a perfect right to. And you are usually sarcastic, not rude, when you think someone is dumb.

I agree with Dorit, I don’t have a big problem with them misspeaking; we are all human and make mistakes.
I have more of a problem with other actions of the WHO, mainly that they were warned by Taiwan on Dec. 31 that there might be human to human transmission, and seemed to ignore it.

I’m not trying to push buttons here, although I’m sure I will. I don’t think I am smarter than any of you, au contraire I admire your intellect. But maybe we live in 2 different worlds as far as information sources. I just wonder what you make of this; I’ve made the point before, I lost some of my faith in scientific papers when I saw the trend going towards corporate sponsorship, and every paper I read always found a favorable result for the sponsor. Apparently I’m in good company:

“May 24, 2020: Philippe Douste-Blazy, Cardiology MD, Former France Health Minister and 2017 candidate for Director at WHO, former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, reveals that in a recent 2020 Chattam House closed door meeting, both the editors of the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine stated their concerns about the criminal pressures of BigPharma on their publications. Things are so bad that it is not science any longer.”

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYgiCALEdpE

And this:

https://www.smh.com.au/national/cannot-be-trusted-causing-harm-top-medical-journal-takes-on-big-pharma-20191203-p53ggj.html

@ Sheila

They didn’t ignore it; but evaluated it. And this information was passed on to our government at the same time.

As for a closed meeting about concerns of criminal pressures of BigPharma, not proof that they succumbed to these pressures and there are more than 2,000 medical journals, some run by non-profits, some by medical societies, and some by for-profit companies. So, highly unlikely that articles negative to drugs don’t get published. In fact, they do. And what Philippe Douste-Blazy claimed may not even be true. We only have his word for it; but, again, even if true, complaining about pressure doesn’t mean they succumbed to it.

As for doctors compromising their integrity and patients to further BigPharma, yep, some do; but others don’t. It should end, that is, doctors forbidden by law to accept free lunches, trips to medical conferences, etc and we should outlaw drug representatives visiting doctors offices. But, for instance, Kaiser Permanente has its own research unit that reviews drugs, etc. and so do others.

And we should outlaw drug advertising. Only one of two nations in world that allows it. Patients end up pressuring doctors, doctors either give in to keep patient, or patient finds doctor who will prescribe.

The world isn’t black and white.

I didn’t say it was. I honestly don’t have an answer. But I’m old enough to remember noticing the shift in research sponsorship in dental journals, and the result, to disgust me.
We used to fund research without corporate America back in the day. I don’t see harm in exposing the weaknesses of the current system. In fact, great benefit.
And I am with you all the way on drug ads. Advertisement, like propaganda, works.
Who in the US was informed by Taiwan? CDC?

We used to fund research without corporate America back in the day.

And it was Genentech who came up with synthetic insulin.

@Narad
Corporations have come up with a lot of drug therapies, God bless them.
Maybe just keep them out of our universities and governmental agencies.
It’s really a horse we can’t get back in the barn… yet it is disingenuous to ignore it.

@Sheila:
If you don’t like the idea of corporations giving grants to universities for research then you need to get on the phone today with you Congressional Representatives and Senators and demand that they properly fund institutions like the NIH so that they, and not corporations, can be the ones giving grants.

Here’s how you find your Representative: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative#:~:text=If%20you%20know%20who%20your,the%20U.S.%20House%20switchboard%20operator.

@ Sheila:

Don’t you think that Orac, Goldacre, Novella, sceptics are acutely aware that companies try to influence public opinion on their products? There are books about it. This is nothing new. it doesn’t negate all research because SBM looks at data from multiple sources not only a particular, single study and examines from whence it came. A single study doesn’t mean much unless it is the start of a series of confirming results. That is why early on, many people- including me– didn’t think too much of Wakefleld’s study: it didn’t fit in with other research about autism that showed how it develops, when it starts, its relation to heredity and development of the brain etc..Wakefield gained fame ( ori nfamy) because of the popular press’s accounts in the UK amongst the general public, not people who studied these subject areas,

Denise,
Fair enough. I am not saying to negate all research, just that there is a lot of corruption. I predicted they would suppress HCQ, before Trump ever said a word about it. Unfortunately I was right.
If my crap detector smells something off, I start by following the money.

I predicted they would suppress HCQ, before Trump ever said a word about it.

“They”? “Suppress”? A girl named John? I don’t see how multiple studies showing that it doesn’t work constitute “suppression.” To the contrary, it seems that it was overhyped from the get-go.

@Sheila:
“Suppress HCQ”?
It’s is nearly the only thing we’ve talked about here for the better part of two months. It’s also been all over the rest of the Internet, the newspaper, Facebook, and I presume the TV news. That’s not very “suppressed”. If anything I would call it “hyper amplified”.

@Narad

“They?”
Maybe ask the editors at Lancet, NEJM, and BMJ, they might know.
Your link to multiple studies leads to just one.
That study was terrible, at least regarding HCQ. They gave patients 4X the standard dose of HCQ (possibly lethal) on the first day, and double the remaining days.. and it seems the lead author might have mixed up HCQ with another similarly named drug (in France), pretty big mistake.
From an interview of lead author below:

FS : Could you please precise what dosage of HCQ you gave to the patient ? and the results ?
ML :  It is 2400 mg in the first 24 hours and 800 mg from day 2 to day 10.  It is an 10 day course of treatment in total.  These are quite high doses to make sure that the blood levels got high enough to have a chance of killing the virus.
 
FS : How did you decide on the dosage of HCQ ?
ML : The doses were chosen on the basis of pharmacokinetic modelling and these are in line with the sort of doses that you used for other diseases such as amoebic dysentery.
http://www.francesoir.fr/amp/article/politique-monde/interview-exclusive-martin-landray-recovery-hydroxychloroquine-game-over-uk

A french MD about this itw (pr Perronne):
“there’s confusion between HCQ and hydroxyquinolin. If this is correct, it is incompetence. The most serious is the use of a dose, potentially fatal.”
➡️ Landray talk about dysentry: HCQ isn’t for this disease, it’s hydroxyquinolin

https://twitter.com/neeyial/status/1269665657643294720?s=21

Your link to multiple studies leads to just one.

Links, Sheila, links. They’re there for a reason.

<

blockquote>A french MD about this itw (pr Perronne):
“there’s confusion between HCQ and hydroxyquinolin. If this is correct, it is incompetence. The most serious is the use of a dose, potentially fatal.”

This isn’t the first time you’ve dredged this one up, and quibbling over a silent ‘e’ as some sort of semantic lever-arm hasn’t gotten any less dumb.

I still only get to one article, maybe I’m missing something? Your link sends me here:
https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/86932
But…
You missed the point. Not quibbling over a silent e, but a major blunder the good doctor seems to have made, confusing another drug’s (hydroxyquinolin) maximum dosage with HCQ.
To be honest, I tried to find hydroxyquinolin and got a chelating agent and a vaginal topical antibacterial tx … I assumed it was a French term for something they use for amoebic dysentery. Chloroquine is listed for it but not HCQ.
In any event, the maximum adult dosage for HCQ listed in the PDR is as follows:
800 mg (620 mg base) PO as a single dose for malaria with a total of 2 g (1.55 g base) PO in 48 hours; 400 mg/week (310 mg base/week) PO for malaria prophylaxis; 600 mg/day (465 mg base/day) PO for other indications.

Am I wrong to thing giving 2400mg as an initial dose is a pretty major blunder?

“I’ve made the point before, I lost some of my faith in scientific papers when I saw the trend going towards corporate sponsorship”

Having ‘faith’ in scientific papers is your first mistake. They’re not a holy book. The whole point of a scientific paper is to try to poke holes in it, no matter who wrote it. And then test the bits where the holes were poked, and replicate, and slowly but surely create a consensus.

It’s not sexy, it’s not flashy, but it’s absolutely critical. I hate the myth of the Brave Maverick. That’s not how this works.

I moved from academia to industry. Because I’m a money-grubbing soul-less goon? No, because I was getting frustrated with it being a bad thing in terms of grants and publications to replicate results and run proper statistics. Our lab replicated experiments, pre-specified tests, and wrote measured, nuanced papers, and never made a splash. In industry, for all its faults, at least R&D can make the case to do things methodically and thoughtfully, to replicate and test, because the end result isn’t a paper, it’s a compound that goes into people – people just like our family and friends.

(Yes, I know Shelia thinks I’m a money-grubbing soul-less goon regardless, I’m writing this for the benefit of any other readers who might be curious.)

@Roadsterguy
I think you are nitpicking my language. You really don’t address my main point.
You assume I think that I think you are money-grubbing; why? I don’t have a problem with profit- driven corporations, I am a unabashed capitalist. It is corruption that distresses me.

@ Sheila, you should check out Professor Marion Nestle’s (not related to the company) blog where she regularly talks about published papers, corporate (or national board) sponsorship and nutrition research.

But I would caution that there’s a difference between publication bias and fraud. If tiny biotech startup X is working on product Y, and while writing up their paper for publication for the funding to be able to do a Phase I trial they discover that product Y doesn’t work, chances are good that study never gets published because the company just goes under. That’s not malice, that’s economics.

I also would ask you to consider that there are a lot of companies in “Big Pharma:, even as they eat each other up. Far more than in, say, Oil. All that competition prevents a high degree of collusion.

@ Pathcoin1

You write: “We know that for any pathogen there is an inoculating dose that leads to immunity without serious disease. We use this concept for vaccination. We know that or any pathogen there is a dose that induces the disease.”

Not correct. Vaccinations involved killed or attenuated microbes. Obviously the killed microbe can’t cause the disease. What about the attenuated. Attenuated involves passaging the microbe through either other animals or tissues that differ from our own. The microbe mutates so that it reproduces effectively in the new environment, so, when innoculated into humans, our immune system recognizes it, kills it long before it can mutate to reproduce effectively in us.

But that is only two types of vaccines. The are also subunit, recombination, vaccines. These take just a few antigens (what our immune system recognizes) and reproduce them in, for instance, yeast. Since no nucleic acids are involved, these cannot replicate in us. There are also virus-like particles, essentially, reproducing the outer membrane of a virus and there are DNA/RNA vaccines being developed, again, designed to only present parts of a microbe.

So, it isn’t the inoculating dose that distinguishes vaccines from actual disease-causing microbes; but, yes, you are correct that some microbes create disease with various few microbes and others require larger quantities. Actually, it is the virulence, infectivity, dose, duration of exposure, etc. You oversimplify.

So, if someone is asymptomatic; but shedding COVID-19, the risk is lower of infecting others if they wear a mask and keep their distance. But also depends on the others immune system. Indications, for instance, that those with Type A blood more at risk. And, for instance, with flu, Japanese studies found when they vaccinated school kids, fewer hospitalizations and deaths of older people. Flu usually not serious in kids; but they can give it to others.

If you really want to understand things, which I doubt, I suggest you begin by learning some immunology. There are a number of excellent textbooks; but too detailed and expensive. I have a couple. The best book, in my opinion, is: Lauren Sompayrac’s “How the Immune System Works (6th edition). Available at amazon.com
Besides the huge undergraduate textbooks, I have read three editions of his book

@ Sheila

According to an article by John Stone, a rabid antivaxxer who has admitted numerous times that he knows nothing about immunology, microbiology, epidemiology, or the history and current status of vaccine-preventable diseases, he writes: “In a videotaped interview on May 24, 2020, Dr. Douste-Blazy provided insight into how a series of negative hydroxychloroquine studies got published in prestigious medical journals. He revealed that at a recent Chatham House top secret, closed door meeting attended by experts only, the editors of both, The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine expressed their exasperation citing the pressures put on them by pharmaceutical companies. He states that each of the editors used the word “criminal” to describe the erosion of science. . . Dr. Douste-Blazy supports the combination treatment –hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and azithromycin (AZ) for Covid-19 recommended by Dr. Didier Raoult. In April, 2020.”

So, he supports using hydroxychloroquine and is angry that journals published negative studies. What does that say? Perhaps bias, perhaps not quite truthful???

As I have written in comments and ORAC in much more detail in several papers, Raoult’s study was bogus and the only other at the time was an in vitro study, that is, treated cells in a petri dish. Well, our bodies don’t react as individual cells; but as systems. In vitro studies are not very credible.

But, good for you, one more person who reacts to one or a few articles without investigating further. Yep, we need to improve how drugs approved, how journal articles approved; but improving doesn’t mean black and white, that currently black. The fact that we have publications of hydroxychloroquine, at least early ones not based on randomized trials, that were positive and now negative studies should show you something; but I doubt it.

And I’ve exchanged comments with Stone numerous times. No matter how well I refute his claims he ignores and continues. Note that the same website has another article entitled: Meryl Nass. Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ). Corrupt, coordinated assault managed by WHO on an inexpensive and effective treatment. Don’t let the blog’s title fool you. Just as prior to the fall of the iron curtain East Germany called itself the German Democratic Republic, while neither a democracy nor a republic, titles mean nothing. Note that Meryl Nass claims to be a world class bioterrorism expert, at least in her own mind. Now she knows that COVID-19 is a bioweapon, totally rejecting numerous studies that find it a natural virus, e.g. 2015 study found literally thousands of variants of corona viruses in bats, later study found that 3% of Wuhan area had antibodies to these, studies found that SARS-CoV-2 genome very similar to several of those found in bats, and study that took the S-surface protein, the protein that latches on to cells, combined it with a harmless virus and found it could infect several animals and humans. But, she is a world’s expert. So much for the website. They do have some articles on human experimentation; but as the old saying goes: “even a broken clock gets the time right twice daily”

Reference:

John Stone (2020 Jun 5). Lancet Editor Spills the Beans and Britain’s PM Surrenders to the Gates Vaccine Cartel. ALLIANCE FOR HUMAN RESEARCH PROTECTION. Available at: https://ahrp.org/lancet-editor-spills-the-beans-and-britains-pm-surrenders-to-the-gates-vaccine-cartel/

@ Joel

Douste-Blazy strikes again… Sigh…

Here’s a 3 hours interview of Douste-Bla-Bla, as some people call him in this corner of the world. On the topic of COVID-19. For those who may be interested in his take on things.

Automatic translation in english can be enabled.

I shouldn’t have put on that summary, only did so to show what the link was about. I don’t know who Stone is or care, more interested in the concerns expressed by the editors of 2 very prestigious medical journals. Also the BMJ expressing concern 6 months ago.

“So, he supports using hydroxychloroquine and is angry that journals published negative studies. What does that say? Perhaps bias, perhaps not quite truthful???”
Perhaps. Maybe he is angry that possibly a lot of lives could have been saved. We will never know, imho.

@ Sheila

Angry because both studies positive and negative published? Get real. And you rely on a few people who confirm what you choose to believe.

As for “we will never know,” again, the only studies were that pushed for hydroxychloroquine was an in vitro and a fraudulent one. If one goes by your point of view, then we should allow all drugs to be used as one can NEVER be certain they don’t work. How absurd. And I would venture that there are still a few studies on hydroxychloroquine ongoing.

I wonder what you will say if overwhelming evidence in the future show that hydroxychloroquine not only didn’t save lives; but actually killed more who might have survived?

The BMJ expressing concerns is not the same as a definitive statement. And it is not the BMJ; but one or two who work there.

As for IMHO, your humble opinion based on what? Do you have training in medicine, epidemiology, etc.? Should we close down the FDA, not require drugs to pass any tests, and just allow them to be marketed?

@Dr Joel
Joel
I have a high degree of esteem for you; but I respectfully disagree.
So far the studies refuting HCQ that I have seen have been bad, either given to patients past the point, too high dosage, no zinc. The big one is gone; the recovery trial garbage because of the dosage being extremely high, almost suspiciously so; the trial that incorporated the VA patients, again, gave it too late, also high doses, no zinc. Even the head of the VA implied it was a crap study.
I will now be a good girl, do my proper homework and review any other paper that has been linked to here. If I see one that changes my mind, I will repent in dust and ashes, I promise.

“As for “we will never know,” again, the only studies were that pushed for hydroxychloroquine was an in vitro and a fraudulent one.”
I would post all the evidence in favor of HCQ but I know I am wasting my time. I know you only want double blind placebo controlled. But there are in my mind too many doctors in the trenches using it successfully, countries using it with low death rates to disregard it based on studies that are poor, or worse .

“If one goes by your point of view, then we should allow all drugs to be used as one can NEVER be certain they don’t work.”
That is ludicrous. Why are you mischaracterizing what I am saying? Hurts my feelings. (Jk)

“The BMJ expressing concerns is not the same as a definitive statement. And it is not the BMJ; but one or two who work there.”
If it is only one or two, they are very brave; what would they stand to gain? PLUS editors from 2 of the most prestigious medical journals all saying the same thing. Looks pretty bad.

“As for IMHO, your humble opinion based on what?”
Joel. I am a retired dentist. No where near your level of expertise. Does that mean I have to only accept what the experts say without questioning it?
“Should we close down the FDA, not require drugs to pass any tests, and just allow them to be marketed?”
I answered that above, that would be preposterous. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a high index of suspicion. Just look at the Surgisphere debacle.

@ F68.10

You are younger, have more energy than me, and specialize in statistics, so i was wondering if you could carefully analyze a paper that climate change denier Tom linked to: https://projecteuclid.org/download/pdfview_1/euclid.aoas/1300715170

As I wrote in a comment to him, both authors are in business schools, so, may be valid; but good chance they really don’t understand the data used. Also, I couldn’t find any critique of article nor any “replication.” So, would be great if you could take the time to deal with it

Bon chans
Viel Glück

Hi Joel,
I am just a casual follower of the climate wars but just the reliance on the McIntyre and McKitrick (2003) and the Wegman, Scott & Said (2006) report to congress raises flaming red flags.

McKitrick is a well-known climate denier (see https://www.desmogblog.com/ross-mckitrick for a few details) and the Wegman et al. saga is, shall we say, remarkable.

This is not to say that the paper may be making some valid points–my stats are to shaky especially in this area– but overall the verbiage, not the stats reeks of climate denier rhetoric and both the last 10 years of research and actual climate change do not seem to support them.

Perhaps F68.10 can suggest why they seem to be using an ARMA model in any case?

@ John Kane

I am not at all a follower of the climate wars at all. Just looked at your link, but did not see any ARMA keyword in it. Anyway, model selection is a very tricky topic, so, in general, it is not easy at all to explain to a “layman” why one time series is preferred to another.

That topic really ties into rather deep philosophical issues on epistemology. So you can safely bet both of your hands that non-statistically-savvy climate change deniers have no fucking clue what they’re talking about when talking time series analysis.That’s one of the many reasons I’m so mightily annoyed with them…

There generally is a methodology to perform model selection that is somewhat heuristic. The so-called Box-Jenkins methodology. It is technical, not that easy to explain out of the box to just anyone, and you cannot really make much comment on model selection using Box-Jenkins without looking at the data straight into the eyes.

And again, while I do know and understand the Box-Jenkins methodology and can apply it and implement it, I’ve never been a professional practitioner of it and have tended to stick to theoretical issues. So I’d really have to take some time and stick to data to answer your question. And I do not see the keyword ARMA in your link. So do not even know where to start if I ever did have the time for that.

@ @ Sheila

The virus was confirmed to have spread to Taiwan on 21 January 2020, from a 50-year-old woman who had been teaching in Wuhan, China.

From Time Magazine: “When they heard about patients falling sick with a mysterious pneumonia in the Chinese city of Wuhan on Dec. 31, Taiwan’s health officials fired off an email to the World Health Organization asking for more information.

This four-sentence inquiry has since become fodder for the political brawl between China and the U.S. and threatens to bruise the reputation of the U.N.’s health agency as it leads the fight against an unprecedented global pandemic.”

So, the early e-mail was NOT based on anything; but rumor from China. As I’ve pointed out in previous comments, the first few cases could have been from direct contact with bats; but once in humans the virus mutated to enable easier human to human transmission or, simply, as more infected, longer and closer contacts, and direct human to human transmission.

Given what we know, the numbers in China during December and early January, there was NO direct evidence of human to human transmission. Perhaps, as we learn more, this will change; but as of now, you are basing your beliefs on hype, just more attempts to lay the blame on China and WHO.

When did the U.S. first receive warnings about a potentially dangerous virus?

On December 31, 2019, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) became aware of cases in China and began developing reports for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on January 1.

On January 3, CDC Director Robert Redfield was notified by a counterpart in China that a “mysterious respiratory illness was spreading in Wuhan [China]”; he notified HHS Secretary Alex Azar, who shared the report with the National Security Council (NSC). According to The Washington Post, warnings about the virus were included in the President’s Daily Brief in early January, an indicator of the emphasis placed on the virus by the intelligence community.[

During the week of January 6, officials of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) convened an intra-agency task force including Redfield (CDC), Azar (HHS), and Anthony S. Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

On January 8, the CDC issued its first public alert about the coronavirus.[

On January 10, the WHO issued a comprehensive package of guidance to countries on how to test for potential cases.[72] By this date, the WHO warned of the risk of human-to-human transmission

Beginning January 17, the CDC dispatched public health experts to screen incoming airport passengers at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, adding monitors at Chicago and Atlanta in late January.[78]

On January 18, HHS Secretary Azar discussed the coronavirus outbreak with President Donald Trump, who criticized Azar for being “alarmist”

So, as early as January 10 the WHO indicated there was a risk of human-to-human transmission.

And the Taiwanese e-mail was not a smoking gun.

I am an old man and have better things to do than deal with people like you who jump to conclusions, who want to put blame, who really don’t understand pandemics nor how complicated they can be.

In 2008 the WHO put out a pandemic warning for the novel H1N1, when it killed far fewer, though more young people than usual for a flu virus, the WHO was severely criticized and its director resigned. So, damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

If I can find the above on the internet, so can you, so why do you continue to make claims and ask others to response without first doing a thorough investigation?

Joel. I am sorry for asking that question, and that I am tiring you out, so I will respond only to the most important point now and that’s it. I also sometimes feel like I am invading your space here so I try to keep my posts pithy. I’m actually exhausted too. We live in 2 different galaxies, information-wise, and we both think we have taken the red pill.

“So, the early e-mail was NOT based on anything; but rumor from China.”

I do understand that the WHO may have had to treat China with kid gloves, in order to keep them engaged. And I also realize you don’t want to panic the world. However.
I dug up the actual email:
“News resources today indicate that at least seven atypical pneumonia cases were reported in Wuhan, China.
“Their health authorities replied to the media that the cases were believed not to be SARS, however the samples are still under examination, and cases have been isolated for treatment.
“I would greatly appreciate if you have relevant information to share with us.
“Thank you very much in advance for your attention to this matter.”

Chen said any medical professional would know the circumstances requiring isolation, and added that the WHO was quibbling over the wording.
“If being treated in isolation is not a warning, then what is?” he asked.
China confirmed virus transmission between people on Jan. 20. On Jan. 12, the WHO had said there was no clear evidence of such transmission. [!!]

However, Taiwan, suspicious that information emerging from China was not accurate, had begun screening arrivals from Wuhan on Dec. 31.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-taiwan-idUSKCN21T0BA

@ Sheila

There is NOTHING in that e-mail that indicated it was transmissible between people. You probably don’t even understand that pneumonia refers to a condition of the lungs, not its cause. Could actually have been exposure to some chemical. The e-mail: “the samples are still under examination, and cases have been isolated for treatment.” China shared their genomic analysis shortly thereafter with the world. There is NOTHING in the e-mail that states transmissible between people. Maybe English isn’t your first language??? As for being treated in isolation, something one does with an unknown disease. And, as I wrote before, it might not have been easily contagious between people at first, then mutated, or close long term contact. Don’t you read what people write? They could have placed them in isolation and then discovered it was caused by a chemical leak or . . .

You write: “We live in 2 different galaxies, information-wise, and we both think we have taken the red pill.”

I don’t know what you mean by the red pill; but given the history of this nation and especially our current President, we have a long history of lying to both our own people and to the world. And I have devoted a lifetime to studying diseases, so, if you mean different galaxies, information-wise, yep, 40+years, and even now I’ve read well over 200 articles on current pandemic. And, as I mentioned, we are responsible for the global pandemic of AIDS that has killed many millions and infected far more; but we NEVER take responsibility for the damage we do.

You write: “I do understand that the WHO may have had to treat China with kid gloves, in order to keep them engaged.”

You should read the history of WHO. They have had to treat the U.S. with kid gloves as well.

You are really tiresome; but so are others who keep posting without really understanding immunology, microbiology, and epidemiology. Despite everything and I don’t like totalitarian governments like China’s, I think their responses within a reasonable time frame. Yep, if they were completely open, if they did have more information sooner, then, maybe, they would have shared a week or two earlier; but it would not have had any effect on what has occurred in the U.S. They may have taken an extra couple of weeks; but Trump’s reaction delayed things by a lot longer.

And, if, thanks to Trump and others, we are ending lockdowns too soon, while we already have the largest number of deaths, we will exceed this by far. Since the virus is a new novel one, no telling what could happen; but it could be a disaster.

I don’t know what you mean by the red pill

It’s a reference to the 1999 movie The Matrix* and apropos of nothing.

*The only time I’ve flown international first-class, this was what they had on the little personal-entertainment devices. I was sitting an aisle across from some putative Hollywood guy who actually trimmed his toenails in early flight. I was too naive to realize that the bar galley was open all night.

Does it bother anyone else that the type object is {gelcap} and not {pill}?

I’m getting the feeling that the Matrix was not written in javascript.

@Tim
That’s pretty funny! Never thought about it.
Great movie nevertheless. I was really disappointed there was no book

@ Sheila

As I wrote: “On January 3, CDC Director Robert Redfield was notified by a counterpart in China that a “mysterious respiratory illness was spreading in Wuhan [China]”; he notified HHS Secretary Alex Azar, who shared the report with the National Security Council (NSC). According to The Washington Post, warnings about the virus were included in the President’s Daily Brief in early January, an indicator of the emphasis placed on the virus by the intelligence community. . . On January 10, the WHO issued a comprehensive package of guidance to countries on how to test for potential cases.[72] By this date, the WHO warned of the risk of human-to-human transmission.”

So, they took longer to make an official statement of human-to-human transmission; but early on did notify us and others that it was a distinct possibility.

Don’t you understand English?

And the cases in isolation could have been directly infected by animals, not human-to-human transmission; but any sane medical system would put them in isolation until they could figure it out.

And Trump has literally muzzled many of our government people, can’t say anything without his permission. It is obvious you want to blame the Chinese. Maybe you are a Trump supporter or maybe just need to blame someone. If one looks at not just China; but most nations, including U.S., all have long history of not being forthcoming on various issues.

I wouldn’t like to live in China; but only returned to U.S. because my family needed me. I lived in Sweden for 10 years and was happy there. Now family are gone and I’m too old to move. Swedish police don’t kill unarmed kids, etc. And on a per capita basis they have taken far more refugees from Middle East and Africa than we have. While not perfect, they have overall a better health care system and far better infrastructure. I don’t know about where you live; but the streets and sidewalks in San Diego are cracked, broken, and in ill-repair. When I’ve had Swedish visitors they are shocked. And they have extremes of temperature, cold to hot, so cracks do develop; but they repair them. And they don’t have Trump or Boris Johnson.

@ Joel

“Now family are gone and I’m too old to move.”

You’ve started mentioning that you’re old only very recently. We knew that you weren’t all that young, but you’ve been mentioning your age quite a bit in the last few posts. Are you having the blues over the past few days?

Now Trump is responsible for the cracks in your sidewalks. I give up.
We could go back and forth forever.
I just want you to know, Dr. Joel, I am praying for you, that God would make His presence known to you.

I just want you to know, Dr. Joel, I am praying for you, that God would make His presence known to you.

Well, isn’t that special.

@ Sheila

“I just want you to know, Dr. Joel, I am praying for you, that God would make His presence known to you.”

Ah… the Return of the Shekinah. More seriously: you never know what relation believers or non-believers have with the “God Concept”. It’s better not to tread too much on these kind of rather personal… things.

Mythbusters showed that, in fact, it is possible to polish a turd. And, in the event that ‘the badge’ were really still a piece of shiny metal, there is still an apple behind it.

“Fell harder than he was pushed.”

I was about to start with “in the Newtonian approximation” before my limbic system had a word with the rest of the circuitry. Anyway, what are the forces in play? The impulse, friction as a lever-arm, and fixed gravity, I suspect that torque “wins” the day. In fact, I don’t think this is even a sensible comparison, but I’m also dead tired.

It is a conundrum. But, one may disregard the gravitational potential energy, U=mgh, term as this is implicit in the ‘falling’ thus does not contribute to the extra ‘hardness’ or kinetic energy at impact of the head.

No matter how light the initial contact was required to push a body out of equillibrium and into the ‘well’, …….

Hmm. O.K. The guy did attain some velocity backwards as he struggled to right himself (or was he trying to add kinetic energy?). It is possible that there was some elaborate mechanism in his shoes that suddenly squirted out Flex Seal —

Tell tRump that torque won the day — AARP ANTIFA status: confirmed.

Anyone following the Brave Maverick Whistleblowing Undercover Nurse (Erin Marie Olszewski) saga?

This woman got a temporary gig at Elmhurst Hospital in New York and is getting a lot of play on Fox News and oddball websites for her revelations about supposed mistreatment and “murder” of patients exposed to Covid-19.

She is (of course) writing a book.

It should also come as less than a total shock that she’s heavily into the antivax movement.

https://m.facebook.com/FloridaFreedomAlliance/posts/2154531331249907

“All proceeds from this fund will go towards the protection of Erin and her family and to ensure that she can safely correct the historical record of the COVID-19 crisis.”

So, donations will go towards hiring armed guards? Building a moat around her house?

It’s odd that someone who trumpets her military service now sounds like she’s hiding under the bed.

Elmhurst Hospital on the other hand has been getting death threats as a result of Nurse Erin’s “revelations”.

So far assorted chuckleheads and dipsticks have only thrown $2045 at Kevin Barry to signal their solidarity and kinship with this garbage-person nurse. Some days it’s hardly worth it for a grifter.

@ F68.10 and Narad

I’m in my mid 70s. I’ve NEVER smoked, only sipped/tried a little alcohol when young, NEVER used recreational drugs, and have been mostly a vegetarian since late teens then a vegan starting about 10 years ago. I do take necessary supplements, e.g., vitamin B12, D3, and since I am a blood donor, iron. Until the pandemic I walked my dog briskly 1 mile (1 1/2 km) twice daily and went to a local YMCA gym almost every day, alternating between weight-lifting and stationary bikes. So, because of good genes and the aforementioned I have low blood pressure, low cholesterol, body/mass index 23; but I have developed insomnia. Two overnighters at sleep lab. Don’t have obstructive sleep apnea nor restless leg syndrome; but sleep efficiency 70%, that is, as we age we lose brain cells; but MRI studies show some areas of brain lose more and some people lose area responsible for sleep, so I’m more or less always tired. Add to not be able to get to gym makes things worse. I finally found a stationary bike that I ordered; but it should have arrived days ago and I’m trying to find some weights. Currently just do sit-ups, push-ups, squats, jumping jacks, and stretching. I also have moderate arthritis and dry eye (so if don’t wake because of insomnia, wake because eyes scratching and have to use drops).

I could deal with all of the above if I haven’t lived to see things go from bad to worse in world. During my entire adult life I’ve never really liked any of our Presidents; but Trump is a nightmare from hell. However, Hitler wrote in Mein Kamp that the orator is just a loud speaker for the innermost thoughts of listeners. So, Trump just represents a significant portion of Americans, violent, hating, self-serving, and ignorant; but due to our not really being a democracy, often determining who gets into office and once in office these people act mainly against those who supported them; but they are too stupid to realize this. Trump has eviscerated environmental laws, so many will suffer premature deaths, disease, etc. He lowered taxes on corporations and super wealthy, so working and middle class stuck with debt which will cut services to them. For instance, rural rednecks voted for Trump. One reason is their belief that Medicaid helps minorities, which to some extent it does. What they don’t understand is it also subsidizes rural hospitals which are closing. Compared to other nations we have less sense of community. People know their rights, not their responsibilities, not that much of what they have is thanks to being part of a community. Finally, we have the most violent police force among Western Industrialized Democracies and we have 5% of world’s population with almost 25% of prisoners, approximately 100,000 TOTALLY INNOCENT (and, as far as I can tell, the only for-profit prison system that lobbies for more crimes and longer sentences); but our criminal justice system is biased against admitting errors. Various innocence projects can only take a few cases which often take a decade or more to finally get conviction overturned. We give prison sentences for petty crimes that other nations don’t even give for murder and we have the death penalty. And while we imprison especially blacks for minor offenses, bankers who almost destroyed our economy often kept their jobs and even collected bonuses from the monies that bailed the banks out. So, combine insomnia with being awake enough to see what is going on in the world and I think I’ve lived too long. I’ve literally outlived ALL of my childhood friends.

And then we have antivaccinationists and others who don’t understand the basics of science or critical thinking, who think they know best, e.g., Christine Kincaid, Natalie White, or jerks like Tom who just reinforce my opinion that this world is in trouble, not just climate change; but the oceans dying, saturated with plastic, and now Trump has made it open season on animals again, even legal to use flood lights in dens where black bears nursing their cub to kill them, not for food, not in defense, just for trophies. Makes me sick to my stomach that people could do this.

By the way, PBS has an excellent two part series, The Vote.

So, yes, I feel old. And the people I’ve discussed don’t really fit the Dunning-Kruger because in their experiments when they explained science, etc. the subjects didn’t always change their opinion; but their level of certainty decreased and some changed their opinions. However, with people like Christine Kincaid, Natalie White, Age of Autism, Tom, etc. studies have found when confronted with science and critical thinking they actually harden and strengthen their positions. In other words, nothing, at least in most cases, can change their minds.

Don’t worry about me. As long as my dog is around and needs me, as long as I can continue to give blood, and next week will see if food bank will allow me to help out, I’ll stick around. There is a Jewish saying: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me; but if I am only for myself, what am I?” So, despite a world with a lot of really bad people, with others who aren’t basically bad but stupid, etc. and with many good people as well, I’ll continue to give blood and other things; but I’m not a happy camper.

I’ve had trouble sleeping too. Melatonin even at 1 mg makes wake up early and a bit hyper. Mg works pretty good but too laxative. Valerian too druggy. Theonine too mild.
Finally went back to CBD oil… it’s like a miracle, I love it! (Maybe the residual thc causes my rants here).

@ Sheila

If you haven’t noticed, I research things, so I’ve tried, among things, melatonin, time released and Valerian.

You might want to get hold of an excellent book covering everything known about sleep, fascinating read: Matthew Walker’s “Why We Sleep.” However, I try never to rely on one source, so I have downloaded and read over 100 medical journal articles.

By the way, one more example related to timing of China’ and WHO notifying person-to-person. In 1997 there was an outbreak of a truly horrendous virus, influenza H5N1 called Bird Flu. Killed most who got it. And, of course, as soon as possible people were put in isolation. Turns out they got it from birds, chickens “and there is “no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission” of the virus.”

Resulted in mass slaughtering of chickens. What if China and WHO had immediately claimed person-to-person transmission. World panic would have followed as far deadlier than COVID-19. And then discovered no person-to-person transmission. World outrage at China and WHO. So, the Taiwanese e-mail that pointed to being put in isolation did NOT necessarily mean person-to-person transmission. Just used as an excuse to deflect blame to WHO and China. As I wrote before, could have been chemical exposure, directly from animals as H5N1, and COVID-19 could then have either mutated to enable easy person-to-person transmission or just as the numbers increased, transmission occurred where close contact, long-time exposure. Early on with H5N1 there were “some” indications of person-to-person transmission; but only in poor farmers who lived in small cottages in close contact with other family members who appeared not to have had long duration close contact with chickens. Still, maybe, not clear.

In any case, as I wrote about China and WHO, damned if they do and damned if they don’t. I gave a time chronology and if anyone delayed acting, it was us, much much longer than China or WHO. Instead of withdrawing funding for WHO, we should try to strengthen it, give it more independence to act, from both us and others. Same with CDC. Trump cut funding early on to both.

As I wrote, maybe China and/or WHO could have acted more definitively a week or two earlier; but as you’ve read, the preliminary warnings were enough for Korea and Taiwan to begin precautionary measures. Even after clear WHO statements, Trump did little to nothing. If you want to direct your anger at anyone it is Trump and how our government underfunds public health. Since pandemics are rare, though could increase in future, we neglect them. Imagine no fires in your area of city for decades, so should we close local fire station?

@Joel
“ Simply brain cells that tell us to sleep and stay asleep have been lost.”
Interesting.
Ho boy I sure hope my CBD oil doesn’t have the same effect as pot! Anyway I am so happy to have it, it’s perfect for me right now. If it starts to fail I will definitely get that book, thank you.

@ Joel:

I’m sorry to hear that.
Although I am usually the last person to advocate woo, as a student, I tried tryptophane until it was banned because of a manufacturing error in Japan IIRC- you can now get 5HTP.
Similarly, there are herbal formulae, magnesium and melatonin ( which may not work much) Of course, you can always get a low dose rx – my late father took lorazepam when he couldn’t sleep and had restless leg syndrome.

You do a lot of good already but ..
have you ever considering tutoring college bound kids or disadvantaged younger students in SD? There are paid and volunteer opportunities, live and remote. The Y around here has a system for adults to help kids after school ( volunteer) and a preschool ( paid)

Of course, there’s always politics:
as a grad student I volunteered to oppose the miserable, anti-woman, conservative horrors in power then: mostly, it was calling sympathetic voters and offering to set up rides ( get out the vote) but we also had live events with speakers and candidates. And sometimes, pizza,. Currently, in the US some advocates in blue states,do telephone outreach to redder areas Some of this may only involve a few hours a month..

You have a lot to offer people.
I now counsel a few EFL/ ESL adults by phone. I also feed the semi-cat cats who hang around my door looking pathetic..

@ Denice Walker

I know about L-tryptophan, etc. Two overnighters at sleep lab. Don’t have obstructive sleep apnea nor restless leg syndrome. Simply brain cells that tell us to sleep and stay asleep have been lost. I’ve downloaded over 100 medical journal articles on sleep and read them; but there is one excellent book you might like: Matthew Walker’s “Why We Sleep.”

And as student and later on participated in organizing and demonstrating against Vietnam War, for Civil Rights, against Death Penalty, against Iraqi War and I also worked years ago in political campaigns, stuffing envelopes, knocking on doors, etc.

I was going to try to learn some Arabic and then volunteer to help Middle East refugees learn English; but that’s on hold. Found what may be good school, only $30 per month near me; but until pandemic ends avoid enclosed spaces with others. Plus, don’t know with lack of sleep how well I will be able to memorize vocabulary. Mainly want to learn pronunciation, at home have memorized slowly several hundred words and phrases. I could, when things lighten up, volunteer to teach them English; but believe it a sign of respect to attempt to learn a little of their language and selfishly, have always been fascinated in languages, how they construct the world differently, etc. Have also read history of Islam and biography of Muhammed, sallalahu alleyhu wa sallam (may he be blessed by Allah). Nice phrase that Moslems say when mentioning Muhammed’s name. He actually was a great guy and had I lived at the time would probably been a follower. Just as the witch trials, inquisition, 30 years war, slave trade, etc by people claiming to be Christians betray the teachings of Jesus, ISIS, Al Qaeda, Saudi Arabia’s Wahabism, etc. betray the teachings and life of Muhammed. He forbade killing or harming of non-combatants, women and children. Even wrote if someone makes war on you, kill them; but if they lay their swords down, let them go in peace. And especially Jews and Christians were protected class. When Moslems took Jerusalem and Cairo did not harm Jews or Christians, did not harm Synagogues or Churches; however, when Crusades took Jerusalem in 1099 slaughtered every man, woman, and child, a killing spree, Moslems, Christians, Jews, men, women, and children. A fascinating book is Karen Armstrong’s “Holy Wars”.

However, next week will phone food bank to see if can help once a week. And will continue as blood donor.

To add insult to injury, San Diego government has always sided with developers, so my once nice neighborhood is seeing buying up of Craftsman homes like mine and replacing with apartment buildings. At first limited to two stories, now height increased. Noisy, no parking, etc at the same time we have broken/cracked sidewalks and streets. There is an excellent book on history of San Diego governments corruption and contempt for neighborhoods, “Stephen Erie et al “Paradise Plundered”

@ Joel

“There is a Jewish saying: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me; but if I am only for myself, what am I?””

Not jewish at all (some parts of my family are on a cousin level) but this saying smacks of good sense. Though it may take some time in someone’s life for that to become obvious. And though it can take many different meanings depending on context.

“However, with people like Christine Kincaid, Natalie White, Age of Autism, Tom, etc. studies have found when confronted with science and critical thinking they actually harden and strengthen their positions.”

That’s why I’m mostly not taking them to task on the studies themselves: I believe discussing methodology and checkmating them into their own logical and methodological inconsistencies from their own point of view is the best way forward. As you can see with Tom, it’s much more a worldview issue: he believes he’s the center of the world; which ties in to your jewish saying… That’s the nodal point to dismantle. And it can take some time.

Glad that you’re not having the blues too much (in french, we say “broyer du noir”, which can be translated approximately as “grinding bleakness”).

“So, combine insomnia with being awake enough to see what is going on in the world and I think I’ve lived too long.”

That’s not the case. Each moment that passes is an opportunity for action. Whether your friends have died or not. I learnt that much (Spinoza did help there to drill a few basic ideas in my mind…). Cannot personally act much on it, now, though…

“Makes me sick to my stomach that people could do this.”

That’s where my cynicism in large parts come from. Can’t shake it off that much, but at least, it enables me to look at these people straight into their eyes.

“So, Trump just represents a significant portion of Americans, violent, hating, self-serving, and ignorant.”

It’s true. But it’s also true that if americans were not so obsessed by their rights and their liberties to the point of stupidity, the US would not be a magnet for freedom of speech and economic progress to the extent that it is. Know of another country with an Elon Musk (I’d trade François and François-Henri Pineault for Musk any time…), where government is constitutionally prohibited with interfering in free speech and where police can be criticised to the extent that it is? I don’t. In a sense, it’s two sides of the same coin: stupidity in the US is hurting americans first and foremost, but it’s also a paradoxical gift to the rest of the world. Which doesn’t change the fact that US foreign policy tends to be awfully stupid, though…

You perhaps should try to find more positive stuff in the current world than focusing on everything that goes wrong. There are positive stuff. Really.

@ F68.10

You write: “Not jewish at all”

Just search the internet with “if I am not for myself,” all hits attribute it to Rabbi Hillel, good Wikipedia article about him c. 110 BCE, died 10 CE

“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?

Rabbi Hillel”

Sorry, but on this you are WRONG😀

Among other things I lived in Israel for six months eons ago, spent a little over two months at a Yeshiva in Jerusalem, Or Sameach. I’m not religious; but it was a worthwhile experience. I have books like “Sayings of the Fathers” “A Guide to the Talmud” etc. The Conservative Synagogue we belonged to when I was young, Tifereth Israel, had a Cantor, Joseph Cysner who I loved. He was sent during 1930s to China by his family who saw what was coming. He survived, they didn’t . Unfortunately, sadly, he died of a heart attack in his late 40s. Maybe its true “the good die young?

@ Joel

No, no. I meant that I personally wasn’t jewish at all, and therefore do not feel obliged in any way, including culturally, to take religious sayings at face value. Some of them I value, though, despite my rabid antitheist outlook on life. For instance Rabbi Meir. Haven’t checked your quote, but I have no reason to put it into question. And it’s a good quote, by the way.

@ Joel:

That’s a good plan.
I tried learning a little Arabic myself because I often ate at a place run by Fundamentalists who played videos of their Imam and later by more worldly Moslems. It’s not super easy but do-able.
Interestingly, for some reason Moslems, Hindus and Japanese wait staff think I’m terrific and often give me free samples of side orders or desserts ( I don’t look very poor or too thin either)
My mother used to tell me when I was a child to be especially nice to minorities because people “who look like me” ( whiteys?) are often prejudiced so ruin the stereotype. This advice has served me well.

@ Denise Walter

The YMCA I have gone to for over 15 years has a Chaldean Christian, Sunni and Shia Muslims, and a Jew from Iraq. All really nice people and all said that under Sadam Hussein things were quite good. After we destroyed Iraq, radicals from various groups created the current problems. The Jew was head of Baghdad’s main hospital’s lab. Under Hussein, his vice president was a Christian, women drove cars, went to med school, worked in hospitals. Hussein was a megalomaniac and brutal when challenged; but when not challenged they had a good infrastructure (destroyed by us) and good health care system. As an undergrad became friends with Palestinian who visited when in Israel. He was Professor at Bir Zeit University on West Bank. I took an Arab bus from East Jerusalem, had his name and school written on piece of paper. When I arrived, asked for him in office. They told me he was in class, so I sat and waited. No one talked to me. He saw me, walked over, hugged me, said something to them and they all came over clapping me on shoulder, talking with me, and we all went to lunch. Later I attended meeting of leftist Jews and Palestinians, met Hanan Ashrawi, who I believe is Palestinian authorities Foreign Minister. Found out later than maybe half at meeting were Shin Bet (Israel’s FBI), so I’m on their list and because of Vietnam protests, probably on FBI list as well as they came to house I shared with other students, one who was President of local chapter of SDS.

Last year I found an e-mail address to my Palestinian friend, long retired, had a brief exchange, really should write again. He married an American who was daughter of government agent on Navajo reservation and he got a doctorate from University of Wisconsin in Cultural Anthropology.

And when I lived in Sweden knew several Palestinians and Arabs.

I would rather have any of them gladly as next door neighbors than Trump supporters.

You really should read Karen Armstrong’s “Holy Wars”. Fascinating history, ties time of Crusades to current Middle East politics. Read it, inexpensive paperback from Amazon.com

Oh, I’ve been going to same Middle Eastern restaurant in home town for 35 years. For years when lived elsewhere when on visit to family took them there. Owner grandson of last Arab mayor of Jerusalem, family intermarried with Jews. There were 4 notable families in Jerusalem, his, the Nashashibi, according to books I read, were the most friendly, accepting of Jews. How Israel treats Palestinians sickens me. As far as I’m concerned Israel is a betrayal of Judaism. It took years for me to accept this. One always wants to believe ones group somehow more moral than others. But I’m not alone, there are a number of Jewish groups, and Jewish-Palestinian dialogue groups in U.S.

@ Joel

“How Israel treats Palestinians sickens me. As far as I’m concerned Israel is a betrayal of Judaism.”

Yeah, well… what is done is done. The only thing to do is to ensure things cool down. As everyone can now see, Iran has seriously upgraded its military capabilities (ask the saudis…) and the belief that Israel will forever be on top of the game militarily is bound to be disappointed in the medium term. It’s the same kind of belief we had in the early 2000s, when some of us whiteys thought that China will forever do the menial jobs and that we, in the western world, will focus on “the economy of knowledge”. Not that the “economy of knowledge” is a bad idea, but the implicit assumption that the Chinese couldn’t think… has been disproved. Same thing for military capabilities in the middle east.

Chinese can’t think. Arabs can’t fight. White men can’t jump… Blow me senseless.

@ F68.10

You write: “Yeah, well… what is done is done.”

Nope, it gets worse and worse. International law makes clear that Israel had no right to one square inch of the West Bank, nor East Jerusalem. In fact, Israel’s expert in their foreign ministry, Theodore Meron, wrote a memo after the 6 Day War clearly pointing out that they had NO right to resources, e.g., water, or land. And almost all the world has condemned what Israel has been doing, except the United States. Evangelical Christians support Israel, not because they like Jews; but hope we will all return there so the final battle will be fought where we will be destroyed; but the Messiah will return. Despite it being a lie, when the State of Israel was created it was clearly stated that it was to be a Land for all; but now Netanyahu has changed this to clearly stating Jews are first class citizens and is taking more West Bank lands, again with almost all the world condemning this. If the U.S. were truly an honest decent nation we would condemn Israel and even place sanctions of them. We actually were part of the UN that allowed the partition and clearly gave the West Bank to the Palestinians; but given the U.S. has broken every treaty, agreement ever made going back to the first with native Americans, not surprising. We were instrumental in creating modern international law; but it only applies to the other side, not us.

Israel tortures, imprisons, kills Palestinians with impunity. Israel is one of the worst current war criminals and guilty of crimes against humanity. So, what is done is not done, it gets worse and worse and the U.S. is culpable, accessory to ALL of Israel’s crimes.

Gideon Levy, an investigative journalist for Haaretz, one of Israel’s major newspapers, wrote an article where he suggested that Jewish Israeli’s wear a Yellow Star of David, what the Nazis required, because Israel has proven Hitler right, Jews are not a people with a Covenant with God; but a race. In the Covenant with God, “Be kind to the stranger in your midst for were you not once strangers in the Land of Egypt.” More parts of the Bible and large sections of the Talmud build on this. Well, Israel isn’t kind to the stranger in its midst, but exceedingly cruel.

@ Joel

I agree with the first two paragraphs, though I would use different words. The third is… well… I won’t comment on the third. I’m just saying that it is now irrealistic to expect the situation to backtrack. I do not see how we are going to solve this issue without forcing a cooling down somehow. And the US is indeed behaving crazy in regard of this issue, for the reasons you laid down (that hypocritical evangelical “support”, typically…). I just meant that, as the Saudis have tasted recently, there are significant changes in military capabilities on the side of Iran, typically. I just hope Israel will take into account that new fact, and realise that military might is not the solution to everything in the medium term. Do not see how that deadlock can be broken intelligently, however. But if it’s not broken intelligently, it will be broken stupidly: the US is pulling out of the Middle East. Not yet pulling out of Israel, but pulling out of Saudi Arabia, yes. The message is that US protection is now not precisely what it was in the past. And Iran’s message is that they are much more capable militarily now than ever. Israel’s biggest asset currently is the chaos in Irak, Syria and to a lesser extent Lebanon as it is some kind of buffer against time: In 10 years time, I do not see Israel having unquestionable military supremacy. The fate of the Kurds might tip the balance one way or another, but the loss of unquestionable military supremacy seems to me only a question of time. As to the Palestinians, I do not believe they have a fighting chance, and Hamas has such a bad public image that I do consider the Palestinians to be a lost cause. We should therefore all focus on cutting our losses so that things do not get worse. It’s a race against time IMO.

F68.10

Iran has twice been a democracy, only to first be overthrown by Britain and Russia, then to be overthrown by the U.S. Saudi Arabia has NEVER been a democracy and the Wahabi fundamentalist brand of Islam is worse than Iranian Shia. Yet, the U.S. has been an ally of Saudi Arabia. In Iran women attend university and have far more privileges than in Saudi Arabia. And had we not overthrown their democracy, who knows how they would have developed. Just one more example of how the United States is a hypocrite when claiming leadership in democracies.

While I don’t like some of HAMAS tactics, at the same time, what choice to they have when facing one of the most powerful militaries in the world and a brutal occupying regime? As for the Palestinians, keep in mind they aren’t the first group in history to have had their lands or part of occupied for years; yet, the world powers gave it back. Israel could NOT survive if the United States actually believed in International Law. So, the U.S., together with the rest of the world could demand, force them to remove ALL Jews from the West Bank and East Jerusalem. If they refused, it would be suicide, frozen bank accounts, trade, etc. We could treat them exactly as we treated Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. And they would deserve it.

And how they treat the people in Gaza is truly a crime, because of control of imports, etc. average daily diet only 1500 calories.

However one looks at it, Israel is a betrayal of Judaism and an international outlaw. It was created by the UN; yet doesn’t recognize the UN and international law.

I love the narrative myths of both Israel and the United States; but hate the realities.

Now some escape time. Netflix has a series called the Flash. Corny as hell, fun special effects, and great escapism.

@ TIm

Thanks, I intend to try to find film and watch it. My French is not very good; but I can listen and read the subtitles.

There is a fascinating book you might find of interest: “Brother Shall not Lift Sword against
Brother” by Tsvi Misinai

From Amazon.com:

A remarkable and challenging book – both in its contents and in its
research methods. This historic-demographic document presents a
revolutionary and daring idea: After two thousand years of exile,
the two parts of the People of Israel meet in the Promised Land,
the part that was expelled but kept its religion and identity and the
part that remained in the country but its religion and identity were
converted. The two parts-brothers become bitter enemies. This
thrilling thesis is presented in the book by Tsvi Misinai, a result of
years of historic-demographic research supported by DNA findings.
The study describes in detail the historical events that resulted with
the situation where the majority of the Palestinian population living
today in the country consists of descendants of forced converts to
Islam that really belong to the People of Israel

But, there is more racism. Ashkenazi (European) Jews brought Jews, Mizrachim, from Arab lands, e.g. Yemen, etc.; but put them in substandard housing, offered less education, etc. They brought them for cheap labor. Worse, between 1948 and 1952 when Mizrachi women gave birth in hospitals they were often told the infant died and were not allowed to see him/her. Later discovered they were alive and given to Ashkenazi families. To this day State of Israel has fought against releasing information so that, though parents dead, their other children and grandchildren can find their relatives.

As an American Jew I was raised on both the narrative myths of American and Israeli history. MYTHS. It was a struggle, a painful struggle to learn that both were lies, absolute lies. As for Israel, yep, I have known Holocaust survivors all my life, have read tons of literature and seen most documentaries; but what the Nazis did to the Jews does NOT justify how Israel treats Palestinians, nor its early racism against Mizrachim.

When I was in Israel I had friends, Jews from Morocco, some Ashkenaz I knew asked how I could even go into their homes as they were filthy. Well, just like my mother, they were spotless, one could, yech, drink directly from the toilets. And I was good friends with a couple, the husband, son of Polish holocaust survivors and the wife, daughter of first Yemenites who came to Israel. They told me how many Ashkenaz disapproved of their marriage. I would have married her in a heartbeat, intelligent, funny, compassionate and attractive, in fact a Masters in Social Work.

No one want so believe their nation or their ethnic group or their co-religionists have done bad things and it is painful to learn and accept the truth. Most Holocaust deniers are anti-semites; but I believe a few aren’t anti-semites; but just can’t accept that their parents or grandparents, their nation could have done something so incredibly horrible. When I was working on a Kibbutz in Israel, a group of German students, not Holocaust deniers, worked as volunteers. There was also a number of young American Jews working on the Kibbutz. I sat and ate with the Germans, the American Jews shunned them. I argued with them that these German students weren’t even alive during World War II and even during World War II many Germans were NOT Nazis. To no avail.

And now we have Netanyahu and Trump, neither even pretending to be non-racists, out in the open. How refreshing???? Interesting also both clearly corrupt as hell.

In any case, thanks for the heads up on the movie.

@ Joel

“Most Holocaust deniers are anti-semites; but I believe a few aren’t anti-semites; but just can’t accept that their parents or grandparents, their nation could have done something so incredibly horrible.”

That was the case of my great-grandfather. He’d been a war prisoner in WW1 and had been, in his words, so well treated by the germans that what happened in WW2 never did compute. Some holocaust deniers are indeed not antisemites. Most antisemites are not holocaust deniers. At least not in the strict sense of the word. But the vast vast vast majority of professional holocaust deniers are indeed rabid antisemites.

Nonsense. Back in the days when I used to write about Holocaust denial a lot more, I learned that ALL Holocaust denial is rooted in antisemitism and/or Nazi sympathies and all Holocaust deniers are antisemites and/or Nazis or Nazi sympathizers. (Let’s not forget, too, that antisemitism is baked into Nazi-ism.) In fact, several of us made it a game to get “Holocaust revisionists” to show their true antisemitic and/or Nazi colors. We never failed, and I’ve never come across an exception. I do try to keep my mind open to the possibility that there might, just might, be out there somewhere a Holocaust “revisionist” who is not an anti-Semite and/or Nazi sympathizer. I have yet to find one, though. https://respectfulinsolence.com/2006/08/29/pseudohistory-and-pseudoscience-1/

@ F68.10

Actually Hitler NEVER won election by majority vote and even some who voted for him ignored his antisemitism, were more concerned about all the various gang shoot-outs and violence, leftist, rightist, etc. and the economy.

In fact, a large percentage of Germans did NOT want war, and were against the totalitarian state created by the Nazis, including military leaders, who were definitely opposed to the killing of civilians, Jews, Gypsies, Poles, etc

As a Jew, one of my heroes is German Protestant Minister Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who family opposed the Nazis from the vary beginning. One good biography is:

Eric Metaxas (2010). Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy

You can also find several documentaries about him on YouTube and a movie.

While I hate the Nazis, the U.S. carried out some of the worst war crimes during World War II, knowing Germany was defeated, we mass firebombed civilians, killing INNOCENT old people, pregnant women, infants. Did the same to the Japanese. At the outbreak of WWII Roosevelt condemned German bombing of Rotterdam and Warsaw and Japanese of Shanghai, etc. Going back to Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, a war crime to target civilians and civilian infrastructure, the Hague Conventions of early 20th Century. Interesting is that at both Nuremberg and Tokyo War Crimes trials bombing civilians not one of the charges. I wonder why???

@ Orac

My great-grandfather never made it a point of principle to start a blog or advocate nonesense. He just couldn’t compute it. Other members of my family were far right but never talked about the Jews. Many people took a long time to realise the extent of what happened. Rassinier, who was in a concentration (not extermination) camp and who started the holocaust denial nonsense, did not do so out of antisemitism at first. Later on, he went furiously antisemite, very true. After the war, it took quite some time for people to want to even look back.

“On entend souvent dire que les déportés ont voulu oublier et ont préféré se taire. […] Si je prends mon cas, j’ai toujours été disposée à en parler, à témoigner. Mais personne n’avait envie de nous entendre.” — Simone Veil

“We often hear people say that deported people wanted to forget and would rather shut up. […] If I take my case, I always wanted to talk about it and witness. But no one wanted to hear us.” — Simone Veil.

We had another phenomenon with Faurisson with the advent of social networks. People that publicised the guy endlessly where obviously antisemites. Young people who started looking into it some ten years ago could fall for it without being antisemites. They were not the ones sharing it online that you could lampoon the way you mentionned as they did not have an agenda. They fell for it. And most of the time got out of it after a year or two. I could make a clear distinction between these people and others who highlighted Faurisson and then went on and on with rants from the Cercles Nationalistes Français; from which I heard the most “logically” structured antisemite rants ever.

“I do try to keep my mind open to the possibility that there might, just might, be out there somewhere a Holocaust “revisionist” who is not an anti-Semite and/or Nazi sympathizer. I have yet to find one, though.”

Depends what you mean by that. Chomsky is sometimes decried as a holocaust denier in France. I believe that goes too far. I also believe Franciszek Piper is a revisionist and not a “revisionist”… If we do not agree on these two points, I do not see any point getting into more refined discussions on other personalities.

I make a difference between rabid antisemites of quite a number of stripes I’ve met over time who made my jaws drop, and people who do not understand what they’re dabbling into. This also happened with the comic Dieudonné in France (not sure whether he crossed the line into holocaust denialism — I think he did, but even if he did not he toyed awfully close with the line with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad…). He offered a massive echo chamber to antisemitism in France, but it would also be a misrepresentation to equate every Dieudonné fan with antisemitism. An equation that has been made abusively, even though, in my eyes, Dieudonné has crossed the line into antisemitism rather explicitly. There also is the case Etienne Chouard, which made a fool of himself attempting to evade any questions on the topic of gas chambers with a “I do not know; I haven’t read anything on the topic” where he should have said “you’re beginning to be annoying asking me questions on which I have nothing to say and that would alienate the right-wing fringes that I’m trying to reach with my political message”. I do not believe him to be an antisemite, though some followers of his clearly are, and though he made awfully stupid and illegitimate political moves.

I also believe that such a topic is not a matter to be taken lightly, and that some witch hunts go too far in the ridiculous. Also to be noted, that while absolutely not comparable in magnitude — but nonetheless with non-negligeable political impact — the Foibe massacres are an instance where we see “revisionism” not always on the same side of political board. I just wish everyone could focus a bit more on the future and a bit less on the past. Which doesn’t mean denying it. Being slaves to the past does no one any good.

@ Joel

I’ll have a look at Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I knew the name, but never really dug into it. Though I must say I do not enjoy digging too much that specific bit of history.

Back in the days when I used to write about Holocaust denial a lot more, I learned that ALL Holocaust denial is rooted in antisemitism and/or Nazi sympathies and all Holocaust deniers are antisemites and/or Nazis or Nazi sympathizers.

In related news, never feed a badly frustrated (in general) Holocaust denier a couple hundred mics and then let him tag along to an ersatz Seder.

@ Orac

I disagree with you and find it wrong that you base your position on your own personal experience. I thought I made it clear that the overwhelming majority of Holocaust deniers are antisemites; but a minuscule few might just be people who can’t deal with what their parents, grandparents, and nation did. Know any who extol the virtues of the Confederacy, most also racists; but some just want to believe in the “Noble Cause.” Unfortunately, while states rights were always an issue, Nullification Controvery on 1820s, speeches in Congress, in Southern State legislatures, in newspaper editorials, only with slavery were the threat of secession included and the Constitutions of all or most of the Confederate states had clauses that slavery was legal. If I was the great grandson of someone who fought in for the Confederacy, I might prefer to believe it was over state’s rights, not slavery. Denial is a psychological mechanism. And Jews I know refuse to accept the atrocities committed by Israel on the Palestinians, try to justify them; but other Jews like me, as coming to terms with American history, savage brutality of slavery and what we did to native Americans, etc. I’ve had to come to terms with Israel. So, while a minuscule number, I think it quite possible that some Germans who are NOT anti-semites try to deny the Holocaust.

Oh, I also suggest you read the book on Bonhoeffer. It gives a lot of information on Germans who opposed the Nazis. Americans brag we don’t commit war crimes; but, as I wrote, when we knew Germany was going to lose and we knew it a war crime, we firebombed German cities, killing well over a million civilians. I hate the Nazis with every fiber of my being, but fight back tears at innocent people, babies, etc. being burned alive or asphyxiated. Should I ignore what the U.S. did?

And when I’ve read about dead Israeli children killed by bombs and dead Palestinian children killed by Israelis, all I picture is dead innocent children. Maybe I’m sick; but I value ALL human lives and especially children’s.

“”what we did to native Americans, etc.””

I hear the BLM is handing out some ice jacket blankets to the reservations devastated by Sars-CoV-2; They are trying to make ammends, cut them some slack.

@ Tim

I watched le fils de l’autre (the other son). Last night, found it on YouTube. I loved it. I loved how it portrayed two families, both loving, both devoted to their children, which is my experiences knowing Palestinians in Israel and, of course, Israelis. But it also portrayed the OCCUPATION. I found myself crying during parts of the film. By the way, there have been such accidental mixups of newborns in U.S., problematic; but not near so when the mixup involved OCCUPIERS and OCCUPIED.

I also found on YouTube some other films worth watching, two documentaries: Budrus, 5 Broken Cameras, and two movies: Lemon Tree (based on a true story) and Syrian Bride (also I believe based on a true story). Not all available free; but inexpensive and I think also available on amazon.com

For those interested, you can find The Other Son at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MY1UIW0njhI

Thanks for the heads up, much appreciated.

Afterwards, to reduce the intense emotions, I watched a couple of episodes of the Flash on Netflix. Great escapism from an often brutal world

And I intend to send a chain e-mail suggesting watch the film

I’m glad you found it a moving picture (<– see what I did there?).

re: The Flash

Six seasons?? Must. Not. To… Yarr!

I always tell myself I don’t like super hero shows but then along came Ant Man and the Wasp. Dammit. Had to go through the whole MCU in a week before Endgame came out.

I really thought that Thanos would be defeated by Antman flying up his butt and expanding inside him. Sigh.

…and we’re also learning that there is infighting among some of the occupiers and some signs of rebellion against Raz Simone…One post on social media, which has now been deleted, read this:

I didn’t vote for Raz. I thought we were an autonomous collective?

An anarcho-syndicalist commune at the least. We should take turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week…

That’s just part of that.

— Martha MacCallum, The Story, Fox News.

https://twitter.com/jbillinson/status/1271885483057037312

The bit from Twitter that was quoted on Fox was hilarious, and I’m not even slightly surprised they didn’t have a single staffer there to go “wait a minute, that’s Monty Python!”

Can’t you just hear the moral outrage when Fox starts reporting on the shenanigans going on over at castle Anthrax?

“”The bit from Twitter

Actually, it was grabbed from reddit /r/CapitolHillAutonomousZone — It comes and goes; Tencent (the Chiners) own 10% of reddit and it seems many posts highlighting damage-free anarchy(?), cooperation with essential services, jubilant buisness owners, and the like get disappeared. Fox wouldn’t coordinate with Xi Jing Poo Bear, would they?

I’m going to write in and school Tucker Carlson on the proper placement of shrubbery. I’m that pissed.

“”and Syrian Bride””

I was going to say “thank you”, but that is not the flick I’ve been racking my brain to find. Perhaps, you could help me with this one:

I saw a film some years ago that really stuck with me even though I don’t recall anything about it. It was not jews/palestinians but similar conflict.

I can’t find the movie because I can’t even remember what exactly was the story —
An arranged marraige and an elaborate plot to escape the girl? Brothers hunt her down? Anyways, there was beautiful scenes of transversing boarders along what was basically goat trails.

Have you viewed The Kite Runner? It is… not that terrible (it really is, though).

Orac: “I do try to keep my mind open to the possibility that there might, just might, be out there somewhere a Holocaust “revisionist” who is not an anti-Semite and/or Nazi sympathizer. I have yet to find one, though.”

Like Orac, I’ve never encountered a Holocaust denier/”revisionist” who wasn’t also an anti-Semitic bigot. Remember too that one can be bigoted against one’s own ethnicity.

Joel: “If I was the great grandson of someone who fought in for the Confederacy, I might prefer to believe it was over state’s rights, not slavery.”

If you were such a person, you would then be directed to the Southern state declarations of secession in which preservation of slavery was declared to be the overriding issue.

Joel: “Actually Hitler NEVER won election by majority vote”

That’s basically a crock.*

“People who say that Hitler wasn’t really elected are usually germanophiles who search for excuses for crimes of the german people in the “Third Reich” (the argument is that a small undemocratic minority oppressed the good people of germany)…The idea that Hitler wasn’t elected democratically is probably an allusion to the fact that he[2] never got more than 50% of the votes (the best result was some 44%). Americans, with their “the winner takes it all”-system tend to forget that you can win a german election without winning a majority.

The problem with this is that, without a majority, you have to form either a coalition with other parties, or form a minority goverment, or both, and in fact that was the problem that had plagued the Republic from the beginning. To put the results into perspective, the 43,9% for the NSDAP in the 1933 election was the best result any party had ever had in the Republic of Weimar from 1919 to 1933[3] (second best was 37.8% for the Social Democrats immediately after WWI)[4]. Governments were habitually formed without any democratic basis at all, so the result of the 1933 election might have looked like a step forward.

It turned out that there is yet another way to govern without a majority – in March 1933 the german parliament passed what is known as “Ermächtigungsgesetz“ (Gesetz zur Behebung der Not von Volk und Reich), a law that allowed the Nazi/Deutschnationale Coalition to govern without the consent of the parliament. That this was in fact an unconstitutional law is a mere technicality – it was passed with a vast majority that would have allowed to change the constitution in any case, so the parliament skipped a step[5].

So,since Hitler and the NSDAP had more votes than any other party during the Republic of Weimar and governed on the basis of a law that had been passed by the absolute majority of the parliament it seems reasonable to conclude that he was indeed democratically elected.

…The pretty much collective crime of the german people[7] was that they supported Hitler and his party even after they had started comitting unspeakable crimes and that a sizable fraction of the population supported him in comitting those crimes.The difficult thing about democracy is that majorities (pluralities)[8] are sometimes wrong and that you have to decide if and when it is your moral duty to follow the wrong decisions many, or when to fight them.”

http://diebesteallerzeiten.de/blog/2009/02/19/was-hitler-democratically-elected/

*another crock, or better yet a travesty, is even subtly equating Allied bombings with Nazi atrocities.

Like Orac, I’ve never encountered a Holocaust denier/”revisionist” who wasn’t also an anti-Semitic bigot. Remember too that one can be bigoted against one’s own ethnicity.

Exactly. While I leave open the possibility that there’s selective memory at work here, there’s never been a Holocaust revisionist/denier that I’ve encountered whom I haven’t been able to tweak enough for him to reveal his antisemitism and/or sympathy for the Nazi regime, the only exceptions being the ones who had clearly figured out my game and had become very squirrely about answering straightforward questions.

It’s very much like my dealings with antivaxxers who claim they’re “not antivaccine” when I ask them, “If you aren’t antivaccine, presumably you’re not against all vaccines. So please tell me which vaccine(s) you consider sufficiently safe and effective to recommend generally for children who don’t have a medical contraindication to vaccination.” Some antivaxxers figure out what I’m trying to do and get really squirrelly. (Of course, when that happens, they give the game away too and show they’re antivaccine.) It’s the same thing with my line of questioning of Holocaust “revisionists” who claim they’re not antisemitic.”

@ Dangerous Bacon

“Like Orac, I’ve never encountered a Holocaust denier/”revisionist” who wasn’t also an anti-Semitic bigot.”

What I have a problem with is these kind of positions:

“Qu’y a-t’il en commun entre un Rassinier, un Chomsky, un Dieudonné, un Bricmont… ? un négationnisme déclaré ou larvé…”

So basically, Rassinier = Dieudonné = Bricmont = Chomsky = holocaust denier. Written black on white in the article I linked. I find that really rough. To me, Rassinier < Dieudonné < Bricmont < Chomsky. The fact that it’s not obvious to anyone in my corner of the world really bothers me. And if I’d started claiming that Chomsky is a holocaust denier, I’d feel a fair amount of conceit and “self-importance”… However, not endorsing, more or less on demand, the claim that Chomsky is a holocaust denier is “evidence”, in my corner of the world, of holocaust denial and of being an antisemite. To me, this has gone too far.

So, may I ask you, Dangerous Bacon, do you consider Chomsky as an antisemitic bigot and/or a holocaust denier?

Contrarily to what I’ve witnessed in my corner of the world, I do not require an answer of you, nor will I consider a lack of response, or a statement that you do not believe Chomsky to be an antisemitic bigot, proof (a somewhat stronger word than evidence, mind you…) that you yourself are an antisemitic bigot. I may not be a “humanist”, but at least I have a bit of dignity when it comes to the kind of word twisting I allow myself.

@ Dangerous Bacon

You write:

Joel: “If I was the great grandson of someone who fought in for the Confederacy, I might prefer to believe it was over state’s rights, not slavery.”

If you were such a person, you would then be directed to the Southern state declarations of secession in which preservation of slavery was declared to be the overriding issue.

Would be nice if you actually read what I wrote, which included: “only with slavery were the threat of secession included and the Constitutions of all or most of the Confederate states had clauses that slavery was legal. If I was the great grandson of someone who fought in for the Confederacy, I might prefer to believe it was over state’s rights, not slavery.” Haven’t you noticed how antivaccinationists refuse to read/learn immunology, etc. So why can’t you believe that descendants of the Confederacy wouldn’t avoid actually investigating all aspects?

Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH
says:
June 13, 2020 at 9:33 pm

Know any who extol the virtues of the Confederacy, most also racists; but some just want to believe in the “Noble Cause.” Unfortunately, while states rights were always an issue, Nullification Controvery on 1820s, speeches in Congress, in Southern State legislatures, in newspaper editorials, only with slavery were the threat of secession included and the Constitutions of all or most of the Confederate states had clauses that slavery was legal. If I was the great grandson of someone who fought in for the Confederacy, I might prefer to believe it was over state’s rights, not slavery.

As for Hitler not winning a majority, he was made Reichskansler after the Reichstags fire which most believe the Nazis were responsible for. And other conservative parties supported him, thinking they could control him. They were wrong. You seem not to understand that Germany had a multi-party parliamentary system, so not getting the actual majority of votes meant one party, without coalition partners, couldn’t rule as opposed to the U.S. where Presidents have won with as low as 42% of the vote, a winner-take-all political system.

And if you really want to put blame for the rise of the Nazi party in Germany, it is the United States. After World War I the German economy was in shambles. In 1923 they experience hyperinflation, several BILLION marks for a loaf of bread. Then in 1924 things turned around. Low unemployment, the arts and theater back, etc. And they easily paid their war debt. In 1928 the Nazis got a little over 1% of the vote. Then something happened, the Stock Market collapsed. Then to make things worse the U.S. passed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act which basically ended world trade. Germany’s economy plummeted while France demanded they continue payment of their war debt. Next election, Nazis got over 20% of vote and next 44%. So, the U.S. unregulated stock market (gambling casino) which almost brought the world to its knees in 2009, earlier brought the Nazis to power. And to add insult to injury, American corporations, well aware of what the Nazis were doing, did business with them, including IBM, right up until outbreak of World War II, profit über alles.

And, as I pointed out, not all who voted for him were antisemites. And even many who were antisemites would NEVER have accepted anything like the Final Solution. I suggest you read the book I suggested on Bonhoeffer.

Am I’m NOT a germanophile. What a STUPID thing to say. I just don’t exaggerate, see things in black and white. And, as I pointed out, many Americans refuse to even ackowledge that the United States is not the moral leader of the world; but, instead, going back to colonists before we even became a nation, guilty of breaking treaties, brutal slaying of men, women, and children.

Sometimes I wonder about you??? On some topics you seem to be quite reasonable; but on others?

And, though my career was in epidemiology/public health, earlier I studied clinical psychology, including personality theory, abnormal psychology, and in social psychology, attitude formation, cognitive dissonance theory, etc. A great book is Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson’s “Mistake were made (but not by me!) which goes into the psychology of why people once they have formed an opinion almost always refuse to change it. Sweden doesn’t have a doctorate in clinical psychology; but a professional degree/diploma, though translated as an M.S. it is higher. I took all the courses for a doctorate in Educational Psychology and all the courses for the professional psychology degree, including one year supervised internship at Gothenburg’s main hospital, Sahlgrenska sjukhuset, in psychiatry department, supervised by Associate Professor Board Certified Psychiatrist, Jan Ahlström and Clinical Psychologist, Christer Nordlund. Long time ago; but I learned a lot about defense mechanisms, etc. Education included everything from psychoanalysis (amusing adventure in non-sensical creativity, with a few valid insights) to cognitive therapies to cognitive behavior therapy and behavior therapy. And I was actually a license psychologist in Sweden. Worked part time to support myself treating patients while working on my doctorate.

I’ve often wondered if I had been born German, had loving grandparents and parents, how I would deal with what Nazi Germany did and what role my family might have played. Makes me shudder.

And Israel accusing anyone German of being anti-semitic simply because they object to treatment of Palestinians is outrageous. Israel is a nation and, thus, can be held to the standards of international law. People who criticize the brutality of American foreign policy are not accused of being anti-Christian, even though many of our politicians claim we are a Christian nation.

@ Joel

“And even many who were antisemites would NEVER have accepted anything like the Final Solution.”

This I do believe. Which does not absolve anyone of anything either way… Nonetheless, the eugenicist nonsense was well underway at the time (and not only in Germany). Antisemitism “old” and “new” + eugenicism + discredit of liberal (in the sense it had at the time, not in the sense Tom uses the word) values + social and economic conditions yielded a “perfect storm”. Did I forget anything?

The role of France also was a problem (remember that the Versailles treaty was held in Versailles because it was payback time for Sedan and the armistice signed in Versailles in 1871).

@ Dangerous Bacon

I hope that this statement, highlighting the role of France, is not considered too bigoted against my “ethnicity”, Dangerous Bacon. It tends to be around here, in some circles that you would not necessarily approve of… Moreover, one should also be careful about germanophobia / germanophilia: germanophobia is still a thing around here, and if there is an important thing one should learn from these episodes is that it may be a wise idea not to let a construct such as the EU, with all its many flaws, disintegrate. Gee… I’m starting to sound a lot like a “cosmopolitan globalist” for a “germanophile antisemite”. Got used to it anyway: when being required — not “politely and respectfully asked” — by assholes to state what I believe on climate change, I earn the “antisemite” label by the same ones who want to hang bankers; and when saying Brexit is a bad idea, I’m a “globalist”. I also try to keep the fact that I do like Soros rather low key: as he is a Joo, it’s both proof that I am a globalist when I say I like him, and proof that I am an antisemite hiding behind his only jewish buddy… you know, the “I have a black buddy” gambit. Oh well… I believe I’ve started to enjoy shit being slingshot at me.

@ F68.10

Actually the eugenics movement’s main proponents, who actually visited Nazi Germany and helped them write their first sterilization laws, etc were Americans. I have several books; but our own Public Broadcasting Service has an excellent documentary that you might be able to access:

The Eugenics Crusade at:

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/eugenics-crusade/

Hitler actually referred to American eugenics in Mein Kampf.

So, when I wrote the U.S. main responsibility for rise of Nazis, Stock Market crash, I forgot to mention our experts visited Nazi German and helped them write their first sterilization and euthanasia laws.

And when Nazi’s began euthanizing handicapped children and adults, mentally ill children and adults, retarded/down syndrome children and adults, they did it in secret. When German population became aware, they stopped, but only after 200,000 euthanized. Continued at a reduced rate and more secrecy.

An example of how majority of German population reacted to killing. So, Nazis learned, reason they kept what was going on in concentration camps a secret. Did some Germans realize what was happening, yep; but did they dare speak out? Nope? Once Hitler gained power, even mild criticism resulted in torture, concentration camps, and death.

Many were against any mistreatment of Jews, others glad to deport Jews, get their property; but not torture and kill them, and some, just like some Americans, quite happy to murder Jews. Currently in U.S. we have alt-right, Aryan Nations, and other groups that, if they could get away with it, would kill Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, etc. and, though a minority, they are NOT insignificant and armed to the teeth.

Noam Chomsky appears to be someone who let his virulent opposition to “Zionism” cloud his judgment, to the point that he became a Holocaust denier apologist.

“Chomsky has always maintained that, in intervening into the Faurisson affair, he took an abstract position for free speech, and nothing more, and he did not bother much with the affair. Chomsky’s defenders and biographers in print and film have repeated the claim, too, which means that probably a great majority of the people who know anything at all about the affair can only think of Chomsky’s insistence as fact. And it is true that Chomsky spoke up for free speech. But the free-speech argument never attracted much attention, even if he has liked to pretend otherwise. What attracted attention was Chomsky’s oddly respectful tone toward Faurisson. He left the clear implication that Faurisson is a scientific-minded researcher, with conclusions or findings that ought to be accorded the kind of respect that is accorded to any authentically scientific researcher. Chomsky left this impression in a petition that he signed in Faurisson’s defense; and in an essay on the Faurisson affair that he composed, which ran as a preface to a book by Faurisson (though Chomsky has insisted that he never wanted his essay to run as a preface, about which there is further controversy); and in a series of responses to his critics, myself included, over several years and in several countries. And at the center of Chomsky’s argument was the insistent claim that Faurisson is not, in fact, an anti-Semite.

He introduced this idea in the preface to Faurisson’s book. “One can ask,” he wrote in the final paragraph, “whether Faurisson is truly an anti-Semite or Nazi. As I have said, I do not know his work very well. But from what I have read, in large part because of the nature of the attacks made against him, I do not see any proof that would lead to such conclusions. I find no credible proof in the documents, published text or private correspondence, that I have read concerning him. As far as I can judge, Faurisson is a sort of relatively apolitical liberal.”…

He stuck by Pierre Guillaume, the publisher, too—in this case in the Voice, March 18, 1986, responding once again to something I had written. Guillaume, he wrote, is “a principled libertarian and anti-fascist who, as Berman correctly asserts, finds merit in Faurisson’s views on gas chambers.” It was odd to describe Guillaume as an anti-fascist, given that Guillaume’s principal argument rests on the contention that anti-Nazism serves as an ideological cloud to conceal the crimes of imperialism. Chomsky was sincere, though. Guillaume became one of Chomsky’s publishers in France. In one of the volumes that Guillaume brought out, the publisher composed a preface of his own extolling the virtues of his author, Noam Chomsky, just to make plain that Chomsky and France’s leading publisher of Holocaust-denial literature had struck up an alliance.

Only, why did Chomsky get involved in all of this? I think Yakira’s argument in Post-Zionism, Post-Holocaust identifies the logic. It is a matter of “ideology gone mad,” with the ideology, in this instance, being—well, the correct word cannot be “anti-Zionism,” though I think anti-Zionism is the concept. Anti-Zionism cannot be the correct word because Chomsky has from time to time intruded into his political writings a phrase or two to suggest that Zionism represents, at least in principle, a reasonable response to the millennia of Jewish oppression. In practice, though, Zionism outrages Chomsky. Perhaps the correct word to describe his own ideology ought to be “anti-Israelism,” as Yakira suggests. It is a matter, in any event, of a profound and abiding anger, and it leads Chomsky to seek out a virtue in even the worst of Israel’s enemies. In the case of Faurisson and Pierre Guillaume and his publishing house, Chomsky has never gone so far as to endorse Holocaust denial himself. But he refuses to agree that Holocaust deniers should be banned from the universe of admirable people with arguable opinions. And his refusal rests, I think, on a certain habit of thinking that surrounds Israel.”

Noam Chomsky: “I see no anti-Semitic implications in denial of the existence of gas chambers, or even denial of the Holocaust…I see no hint of anti-Semitic implications in Faurisson’s work”

So, either you have to believe that Chomsky was an utter moron (difficult) or that he let his strongly-held views on Zionism and Israel cloud his brain to the point that he couldn’t bring himself to recognize Faurisson’s vile and specious claims about the Holocaust (to my knowledge, Chomsky never apologized for failing to acknowledge this).

Chomsky’s defenders who share his politics apparently can’t bear to see his reputation tarnished by the Faurisson Affair, so they pretend it was just a free speech issue.

*if there is any doubt Robert Faurisson was a sleazy anti-Semitic bigot, it should be removed by a quotation in the New York Times (10/22/18):

“In an interview with this reporter in 1998, Mr. Faurisson, a slight, bespectacled figure with a high voice, asked me at one point, as if to clinch his argument, “Have you ever seen a gas chamber?”

“At another point he said: “Excuse me, but you are definitely a Jew! And the Jew, we have the right to typecast him. How on earth do you imagine that one would not be irritated by them?”

in this case in the Voice, March 18, 1986, responding once again to something I had written.

Just who the fuck are you people? And here I am posting fart jokes.

Wow. Around here, half the churches have ‘Zion’ in the name. And, although I’ve drifted away, I think the jist of it was that the ‘Israelites’ must piss the world off enough to become ‘surrounded by armies’ so that the parishioners can then be called up into Heaven before their Medicare runs out.

{trying this again because it is hard to tell if cloudflare let the last one through}

Wow. Many churches around here have ‘zion’ in the name. I’ve been away for quite awhile but, as I remember, the ‘Israelites’ must piss the rest of the world off enough to get ‘surrounded by armies’.

Once this happens, all the parishioners get called up to heaven before their medicare runs out.

@ Dangerous Bacon:

“Noam Chomsky appears to be someone who let his virulent opposition to “Zionism” cloud his judgment, to the point that he became a Holocaust denier apologist.”

Though I do believe he got a bit crazy lampooning not only Zionism but also the US, I have trouble considering him an “apologist”. Do not know precisely what you mean by that, though.

“Chomsky has always maintained that, in intervening into the Faurisson affair, he took an abstract position for free speech, and nothing more, and he did not bother much with the affair. Chomsky’s defenders and biographers in print and film have repeated the claim, too, which means that probably a great majority of the people who know anything at all about the affair can only think of Chomsky’s insistence as fact.”

I tend to believe indeed that Chomsky is consistent here. I looked rather closely at his intellectual makeup and his philosophy, and I do believe he is indeed consistent with himself.

“And it is true that Chomsky spoke up for free speech. But the free-speech argument never attracted much attention, even if he has liked to pretend otherwise. What attracted attention was Chomsky’s oddly respectful tone toward Faurisson.”

Well, it did attract attention, but very true, it has been massively deformed. And not by good people…

“He left the clear implication […] and in a series of responses to his critics, myself included, over several years and in several countries.”

I’m aware of the story, though not of the full details. Perhaps I’m naïve, but I tend to think that arguments should stand on their own. By which I mean that if you defend freedom of speech, you indeed should avoid taking position on anything else than freedom of speech. Specifically on such matters. I believe much of the controversy has been on the use of the word “historian”.

“And at the center of Chomsky’s argument was the insistent claim that Faurisson is not, in fact, an anti-Semite.”

I haven’t looked much into Faurisson. Got disgusted pretty quickly by one video and one audio track… And while I have zero doubt that Faurisson is an antisemite, I’m also quite positive that the man was dead sure that he himself was not… Mind-boggling.

“He introduced this idea in the preface to Faurisson’s book. “One can ask,” he wrote in the final paragraph, “whether Faurisson is truly an anti-Semite or Nazi. As I have said, I do not know his work very well. But from what I have read, in large part because of the nature of the attacks made against him, I do not see any proof that would lead to such conclusions. I find no credible proof in the documents, published text or private correspondence, that I have read concerning him. As far as I can judge, Faurisson is a sort of relatively apolitical liberal.””

Well, that is obviously false. Though I do believe it is true that this is what Faurisson wanted to believe of himself.

“Guillaume became one of Chomsky’s publishers in France. In one of the volumes that Guillaume brought out, the publisher composed a preface of his own extolling the virtues of his author, Noam Chomsky, just to make plain that Chomsky and France’s leading publisher of Holocaust-denial literature had struck up an alliance.”

Not sure about the whole story, but as far as I understand, he didn’t have much options to get published in France; which was a required move of his given the impact of the controversy. So… all in all…

“Only, why did Chomsky get involved in all of this? I think Yakira’s argument in Post-Zionism, Post-Holocaust identifies the logic.”

While I do believe that anti-zionism was a part of it, I also do not believe that the attachment of Chomsky to philosophical liberalism is faked. Many anarchists have a problem with Chomsky not because he’s not left-wing enough, but because on a philosophical level, he’s the most left-wing of all people seriously attached to philosophical liberalism and enlightenment values. I believe that indeed there is a problem of “ideology gone mad”, but I would locate it in “enlightenment values gone mad”. I have a different appreciation of the impact of anti-zionism in that affair. But I may be mistaken on that evaluation of the psyche of Chomsky. As a matter of fact, I do believe that there are good reasons to limit free speech with holocaust denial laws, known as Popper’s paradox of tolerance. But I’m also frightened to see how this is being misused for political gains and rhetorical stunts, and I do not like it at all. As to the loi Gayssot, I believe the official underpinnings of it are bogus, though the law is approximately fine on paper. It does infringe nevertheless on academic freedom, a domain we’re not so good at in France…: I believe it should have made provisions for academic freedom to allow publications in academic journals (they are peer-reviewed… are they not???), but not stuff like the journal article Faurisson managed to cram into Le Monde or books commercialised in France. The ban is too stringent, though in the media and on the Internet, it is legitimate. Frightened of the way it may backfire, though.

“Anti-Zionism cannot be the correct word because Chomsky has from time to time intruded into his political writings a phrase or two to suggest that Zionism represents, at least in principle, a reasonable response to the millennia of Jewish oppression.”

Thank you for being honest on that. And I indeed agree with him on this last point.

“It is a matter, in any event, of a profound and abiding anger, and it leads Chomsky to seek out a virtue in even the worst of Israel’s enemies.”

Yeah. Never followed him on that (and I do not have a very good opinion of Israel since Lebanon 2006). But I tend to disagree on your assessment of what part of “ideology” went “mad” in this affair.

“In the case of Faurisson and Pierre Guillaume and his publishing house, Chomsky has never gone so far as to endorse Holocaust denial himself.”

Perhaps because he doesn’t deny it?

“But he refuses to agree that Holocaust deniers should be banned from the universe of admirable people with arguable opinions.”

I think the word “admirable” is a bit unfair in your assessment. Christopher Hitchens made a similar case for David Irving, and he obviously did not believe David Irving was admirable in any sense. But he did argue that Austria was much less admirable in the affair that occurred. The video where he made that case has since been banned or disappeared from Youtube as far as I could tell. Similarly, in the case of Hitchens, I believe you have the same phenomenon of leftists not crossing the line into renouncing freedom of speech and enlightenment values. Though Hitchens was much less of a leftist than Chomsky in his laters years, and not as much obsessed by anti-Zionism as Chomsky was.

“And his refusal rests, I think, on a certain habit of thinking that surrounds Israel.”

Hitchens defending David Irving is a case where that argument falls flat. As far as I see it.

“Noam Chomsky: “I see no anti-Semitic implications in denial of the existence of gas chambers, or even denial of the Holocaust…I see no hint of anti-Semitic implications in Faurisson’s work””

In Faurisson’s work, I do see it. But on principle, Chomsky is right. Though, in practice, we all know full well that things do not work out that way: people who positively deny gas chambers very obviously have motives. But I had this “gas chamber gambit” thrown at me on multiple occasions. I’m sorry: as long as the person throwing me the “do you believe in gas chambers?” killer question is unable to explain why gas chambers are a big deal, I do not answer to pricks having the conceit to believe they have a divine right to crawl under my skin. The correct answer to “why” being that gas chambers are the smoking gun of the specifically medical twisted mindfuck games the nazis played with themselves in order to justify to themselves what they were doing. As long as the person asking me whether or not I believe in gas chambers has the conceit to instrumentalise that specific point without showing me that they know that, that person can go fuck himself if he expects or feels entitled to an answer from me. I really do not like enforced speech in any matter, and specifically on this matter. Denial laws are enough. If you have a law banning holocaust denial, it would be a nice idea that there would also be a social consensus not to instrumentalise these matters.

“So, either you have to believe that Chomsky was an utter moron (difficult) or that he let his strongly-held views on Zionism and Israel cloud his brain to the point that he couldn’t bring himself to recognize Faurisson’s vile and specious claims about the Holocaust (to my knowledge, Chomsky never apologized for failing to acknowledge this).”

I think he is morally right not to have apologised. He shouldn’t. Though I also believe that holocaust denial laws should be maintained but amended on specific points.

“Chomsky’s defenders who share his politics apparently can’t bear to see his reputation tarnished by the Faurisson Affair, so they pretend it was just a free speech issue.”

I do believe it is a free speech issue. Though a more subtle one than Chomsky acknowledges. And while I consider myself a Chomsky defender, I do not share his politics. And in fact, I’m very much happy that he took a stand there, even though I do not share his position.

“If there is any doubt Robert Faurisson was a sleazy anti-Semitic bigot”

Zero.

“In an interview with this reporter in 1998, Mr. Faurisson, a slight, bespectacled figure with a high voice, asked me at one point, as if to clinch his argument, “Have you ever seen a gas chamber?”

That is not antisemitic. It is fucking nonsense…

“At another point he said: “Excuse me, but you are definitely a Jew! And the Jew, we have the right to typecast him. How on earth do you imagine that one would not be irritated by them?”

That is antisemitic.

And by the way, a bit sick and tired of seeing the holocaust reduced to gas chambers. Gas chambers were the end of a whole process. People who use the loi Gayssot to blackmail their political opponents into submission should remember that… and ponder themselves what twisting of history they themselves do engage in…

Noam Chomsky appears to be someone who let his virulent opposition to “Zionism” cloud his judgment, to the point that he became a Holocaust denier apologist.

Even worse, he didn’t express himself in Normal Form. (He didn’t come up much during my graduate stint in Yale AI.)

The part of Joel’s word salad dealing with the Confederacy was sufficiently garbled that it was hard to understand exactly what he was saying. Nevertheless, I merely pointed out that there is no excuse for anyone denying that the Civil War, from the Confederacy’s point of view, was first and foremost about preserving slavery.

I have nothing else to say to a person whose cognition is impaired to the point that he blames the rise of Nazism on the United States. If trade barriers were all-important, why was Germany the only nation to develop and enable such a hateful ideology?

*Fascism in Italy was bad enough, but its effects pale in comparison to Nazism. And no other European nation decided that since economic times were bad, it was time to start rounding up and killing Jews, gypsies, mental “defectives” etc. while enslaving many millions of others in the name of “lebensraum”.

@ Dangerous Bacon

“I have nothing else to say to a person whose cognition is impaired to the point that he blames the rise of Nazism on the United States.”

Denying that eugenics had a big part to play in the form nazism took is also problematic. And eugenics were not a specifically german invention.

@ F68.10

Since I suggested watching the PBS program, if you have access to it, The Eugenics Crusade, I haven’t watched it since it first came out, so I just rewatched it and it clearly states that Germany’s treatment of the Jews also reflected somewhat America’s.

Dangerous Bacon’s mentality is similar to antivaccinationists, climate change deniers, Southerners who refuse to acknowledge slavery as reason for secession, etc. he can’t accept just how bad many aspects of American history and society are.

So, sometimes he contributes to the discussion; but others is just as closed minded as others.

See if you can access the program. I think you will find it well-worth watching

@ Joel

“Dangerous Bacon’s mentality is similar to antivaccinationists, climate change deniers, Southerners who refuse to acknowledge slavery as reason for secession, etc. he can’t accept just how bad many aspects of American history and society are.”

Calm down, Joel… You’re overreaching…

@ Dangerous Bacon

First, Germany wasn’t the only country to practice hate and racism. Second, Germany had been humiliated losing World War 1, especially given it was a contest over colonies to begin with and Germany was given the entire blame for the war, including steep punishment of war reparations to the Allies. In addition, though she was losing the war, Germans revolted against their government when they heard of Wilson’s 14 Points for a just peace. But Wilson, on the way to France became sick from the 1918-19 Pandemic, survived; but was weakened, not able to fight the good fight. And Italy also was brutal, not as much against Jews; but Ethiopians. And, of course, the Japanese were horrible to the Chinese, slaughtering men, women, and children.

And, countries like Poland, Latvia, and especially Romania eagerly helped in the killing of Jews. In fact, the Romanians were so brutal that the Germans had to reign them in.

And I didn’t say trade barriers were the main reason, just the final blow. Don’t you understand English? It was the Depression caused by the American Stock Market and then France and other allied countries that demanded the Germans continue to repay their war reparations when they had immense unemployment, etc.

Nazism existed prior to the stock market crash; but as I explained, and you appear too stupid to understand, in 1928 they only received a little more than 1% of the vote.

And, since you obviously don’t understand much about the human psyche, you refuse to understand why people, e.g., Southerners, refuse to acknowledge the real cause for secession.

Just as you apparently don’t understand the difference between a two party winner-take-all-system and a parliamentary system where if one doesn’t get a clear majority, then a coalition is necessary. I really doubt you have studied what happened in Germany from end of WWI and onwards.

You really have now shown your inability to accept anything that goes against your own prejudices. Too bad.

Joel: “Germany wasn’t the only country to practice hate and racism. Second, Germany had been humiliated losing World War 1, especially given it was a contest over colonies to begin with and Germany was given the entire blame for the war, including steep punishment of war reparations to the Allies.”
Joel (previously): “Am (sic) I’m NOT a germanophile.”

Joel: “And I didn’t say trade barriers were the main reason (for the rise of the Nazis), just the final blow. Don’t you understand English?”
Joel (previously): “And if you really want to put blame for the rise of the Nazi party in Germany, it is the United States…So, the U.S. unregulated stock market (gambling casino) which almost brought the world to its knees in 2009, earlier brought the Nazis to power.

😉

@ Dangerous Bacon

“Am (sic)” so i made a type, should have been “and”

By the way, the Japanese during World War II performed medical experiments on Chinese without anesthesia, also dropped chemicals or diseases on Chinese villages just to see what happened. And often Nazi Germany didn’t have to round up and kill Jews, Poles, Latvians, Ukranians, Romanians, and others eagerly did the dirty work.

The U.S. has a history rife with atrocities. In 1864 Colonel Chivington led a group of Colorado volunteers against a peaceful Indian village, the men were away hunting. His men raped the women, killed old men, women, and children, then mutilated the bodies, cut off women’s breast and vaginas, pinned them to their tunics, and paraded through Boulder, Colorado. Not the first or last time Americans did this.

Another thing, besides eugenics, that the Germans modeled after Americans, in 1900 we went to war against Fillipinos to make it a colony. They fought back. If filipino guerrillas killed American troops, Americans went into a village, lined every man from 10 years of age and shot them, I repeat, 10 years of age. And on one island, the American commander slaughtered every man, woman, and child. Well, during WWII, the Nazis did the exact same thing, took boys/men 10 years and up and shot them if a German soldier had been killed.

There is actually a novel by Sinclair Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here, about America becoming like Nazi Germany.

D.H. Lawrence, the novelist, spent several years in the U.S. and wrote Americans have a killer’s instinct.

So, believe what you want.

If the stock market had not crashed, the German economy was booming, low unemployment, the Nazis would NEVER have come to power. And in 2009 we apparently still hadn’t learned our lesson. The Smoot-Hawley Bill, was the final blow that brought the world economy to its knees, ending trade because other nations followed suit. The wrong move by our government. And, as I mentioned, despite what Nazis were doing, American companies kept doing business with them. In fact, the Concentration Camps were partly possible because IBM helped them with early punch cards to coordinate things. Nothing has changed, American companies don’t care who they hurt, profit first and foremost. If they pollute water, air, withhold adverse events to get drug passed by FDA, etc etc etc. Not all American companies; but many.

Watch the PBS documentary “The Eugenics Crusade”

By the way, does “Dangerous Bacon” refer to trichinosis???

@ Dangerous Bacon

The first couple of quotes are not contradictory. I do not exactly share Joel’s point of view on WWI but it’s essentially factual. And if antisemitism were the only factor in the rise of nazism, then Poland had a level of antisemitism that could easily have triggered that kind of massacre. And whatever one might think of Poles, this did not happen this way. Simone Veil also had this position, that one should make a distinction between nazis and the rest of the germans. Not out of love for germans, but because she came to the conclusion that the holocaust could have happened “anywhere”, in her words. This is not to deny the level of antisemitism in Germany, which was obvious. (Just what did Nietzsche think of Wagner and his public?). Antisemitism was also rife in France. Why did it not happen there? Not the same socio-economic context for one, but perhaps paradoxically a catholic presence that indeed was fueling antisemitism but that would nonetheless have opposed crazy level of eugenics — though not persecution — and a democratic system where the left wing was incorporated into the political system, which allowed social frustrations to be vented to some extent. The german situation was one where all these factors went completely out of parameters. The two last sentences are essentially a rough guess, but to claim that this could have happened only in Germany seems to me a position that is excessive. The Brits, for all the admiration I have for their democratic tradition, were not immune to these kind of political moral failures with Mosley’s british union of fascists. If tipping points were not reached for Mosley to seize power, it’s also because the aristocracy could rein him in, while in Germany, with a democratisation that went as precipitously as… Iraq?… plus 1929, tipping points were indeed reached more easily. One could also wonder why french elites floundered and flinched so fast against the germans…did they really really choose to fight? or not?

The second couple of quotes are a bit more contradictory, but you’re not really charitable towards Joel when interpreting his words… Did I not mention Rabbi Meir?

Joel: “American companies don’t care who they hurt, profit first and foremost. If they pollute water, air, withhold adverse events to get drug passed by FDA, etc etc etc”

Sounds like a classic justification for antivax babble.

A far better example of a U.S. firm happily engaging in commerce with the Nazis is the Ford Motor Company, whose founder, not coincidentally was a virulent anti-Semite. Ford did not however bring the Nazis to power, nor did the U.S., despite all of Joel’s flailing.*

*the D.H. Lawrence quote is a nice touch. 🙂

@ Dangerous Bacon

Obviously you have comprehension problems. I didn’t say American companies brought the Nazis to power; but once in power, once clear what they were doing, either, for Ford, as an anti-semite and to make profit or IBM just to make profit, they certainly didn’t do anything to show their non-acceptance of the Nazis.

I clearly explained that the Nazis only received slightly more than 1% in 1928 election; but the 1929 Stock Market crash created mass unemployment while France demanded continued payment of war debt. And American protectionist actions led to a downward spiral that ended in the Great Depression. And even the Versailles treaty that laid blame for war on Germany alone and a number of other factors led to Nazi rise to power.

As for “Sound like a classic justification for antvax babble” Except vaccines are more regulated than any other product on the market. Vaccines represent only 2% of worldwide drug industry profits, though a couple of companies do better. Research on vaccines has been carried out around the world. We know how they work, at least if one understands immunology, we know the history of vaccine-preventable diseases, etc. Yep, antivaxxers ignore all this; however when it comes to other products, e.g., cars, food, etc. government oversight is lax.

Really stupid to equate accurate historical evidence in American companies doing business with the Nazis, of claiming I said was American companies responsible for rise of Nazis, etc

While F68.10 thought my response to you a little to harsh, I think it quite accurate. You apparently are either quite ignorant of history, both rise of Nazi Germany and the atrocities of American history.

So, apparently I was right, Dangerous Bacon refers to a nasty disease, trichinosis.

@ Dangerous Bacon

“Sounds like a classic justification for antivax babble.”

So-called “externalities” are a real problem. And the problem goes a bit further than merely externalities. Few good solutions to that problem; most of them brutal and counterproductive; but sometimes brutality is warranted.

As usual, an anti-vaxxer refuses to understand that people have less children when they know that most will survive .
With vaccines and medical care, more live so women have less children.

There are numerous graphs ( easy enough to find) that show in detail how the number of children women had declined since 1900 and how women’s increasing educational achievements correlate to this trend as does decreasing poverty whether they are in the US, UK, EU or in other less developed countries in Africa as well as in other continents.

In developed countries today, often women delay childbirth until a much later age Some do not have any children at all by choice.

Why should an organisation that enables women to delay childbirth and complete their education be considered eugenics oriented?
Anti-vaxxers hint that SBM in the less developed world is a plot to cancel babies when in reality, it ensures a better life for families and women who can better support fewer children. If this is eugenics, they must have already done the same in the industrailsed world because numbers declined precipitously long before Mr Gates was born. How many children did our grandmothers have compared to our own cohorts?

It just shows how truly ignorant they are….My grandmother was one of 13 brothers and sisters. Of those, only 9 made it to adulthood & three more died before the age of 30 (including one who dropped dead during basic training of a congenital heart defect).

Today, having more than 3 kids is considered unusual…..because we no longer need huge families to insure some at least some kids live to be adults.

What morons antivaxers are….and of course, all supervillians announce their plans in TED talks, right?

@ Denise Walter

Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen, in his book “Development as Freedom” describes the Indian State of Kerala. They provide education to women and universal health care, so women marry later, often have and keep jobs AND have fewer children, almost all who survive because of the health care and better economic conditions. And Kerala isn’t among the wealthiest Indian States.

And the WHO tried numerous times to use a socio-economic approach to African nations, including clean water, education, jobs, and including the locals in planning. Major donor nations, especially the U.S. preferred a technical-medical vertical model, just dealing with specific diseases, so, HIGH INFANT MORTALITY. Numerous studies have found, in most cases, that when families become middle class, they usually have fewer children. (e.g.,Cueto, 2019, The World Health Organization: A History. Cambridge University Press.)

But, just like anti-abortionists who claim to be pro-life; but don’t care what happens once born, anti-vaxxer don’t consider deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases, deaths from poverty, etc.

Harrison JA (2020 Feb 24). Reader’s Editorial: Abortion is a First Amendment Issue. East County Magazine. Available at: https://www.eastcountymagazine.org/reader’s-editorial-abortion-1st-amendment-issue

And Kerala isn’t among the wealthiest Indian States.

They seem to do OK; I don’t know how robust the cross-tourism from Goa is. See also <a href=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Indian_states_and_union_territories_by_poverty_rate”>here. I’m not finding a lot of really up-to-date demographic numbers.

@ Nathalie White

Never confuse eugenics with the demographic transition

If there is one thing to thank medical progress for, it is precisely that. People can now have sex without worrying too much about the consequences, which indirectly frees mankind’s intellect from petty concerns. Much more valuable in my moral worldview than public health per se, but a by-product of progress in public health. (And speaking these last words really flays my mouth…)

@ F

Population Control = Eugenics

BG is a businessman. This graphic sums it up. https://twitter.com/Ryvenger1/status/1250133935180247040/photo/2

You write, “People can now have sex without worrying too much about the consequences….” Oh boy. A response to that would be another post. I gotta get some Vitamin D before it gets too hot. Read Vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for the CONvid.

I see you’re a PF fan, too. Here are the Gat Brothers and their cover of Shine on You Crazy Diamond. Hope you like it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdGJhzGRAe8

@Natalie White:

Population Control = Eugenics

Nope. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrongety wrong. In fact, not even wrong.
The Holocaust = eugenics. Aktion T4 = eugenics.
Ancient Egypt had birth control. They had primitive condoms, and made a plug from crocodile dung mixed with other substances. Modern researchers discovered that crocodile dung contains spermicidal compounds. Ancient Roman men took sylphium, a plant related to fennel, as the male pill. It caused temporary sterility. Unfortunately, the romans fucked it into extinction.
What I’m saying is, even millennia ago, people tried to control their fertility as unwanted pregnancies were a real problem.
A few days ago, I read a news article that genuinely surprised me. Public hospitals in Iran are to stop giving out contraceptives and performing vasectomies. According to the article, during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, Ayatollah Khomeini was concerned about the cost of raising families, and set in motion programs to lower the number of children. They were successful.
Too successful.
The “replacement rate” to keep a population stable is 2.2 children per family. Currently, Iranians are having an average of 1.7 children per family and the population is aging too fast for the oligarchs’ liking. Private hospitals will still be allowed to hand out contraceptives and perform vasectomies.
Children take a lot of resources to raise to adulthood. Having a lot when you can only afford a few is something to be avoided.

@ NW:

Birth control is about choice.

If you want to be continuously pregnant your entire adult life until it stops your heart, well, that’s your choice.

If you don’t want to be pregnant all the time, if you want to choose how many children you have based on your ability to feed, house, clothe and educate them, then that is also your choice.

Making that choice available to every woman in the world isn’t eugenics, it’s empowerment.

@ JustaTech

“Making that choice available to every woman in the world isn’t eugenics, it’s empowerment.”

Thank you, JustaTech. Reading this gave me an orgasm.

@ Nathalie White

“Population Control = Eugenics”

And population control isn’t birth control either, but not eugenics either. And we have little choice but to engage in population control at some point: we’re in the midst or at the beginning of the end of a worldwide demographic transition and not trying to control population would be irresponsible given the changes countries are undergoing and given water scarcity in quite some areas of the world. Moreover, the world population will have aged significantly with much lower low birth rates in 70 years or so; so we’ll also have to think a bit more about what population control means… and what can be done.

“BG is a businessman. This graphic sums it up.”

A businessman is as much entitled to freedom of speech as anyone else, prisoners included. As to freedom of action, I wonder what’s all the fuss about glorifying getting rich in the US if it’s to lambast people when they try to use their money for good causes… Wish french billionaires were as active as Gates on many causes… And I’ve pretty much been a Gates basher as a free software aficionado for quite some time. People make some bad moves and some good moves. I have the modesty to believe that we should try to be discerning.

“You write, “People can now have sex without worrying too much about the consequences….” Oh boy. A response to that would be another post.”

Yeah, well please do. I’m not a sex fanatic in any way, but I simply recognise that people won’t stop screwing just because it offends the moral values of whoever has an issue with sex. Whether it be a muslim fundamentalist or a psycho-analyst. As to the catholic hierarchy, I do find it weird that they do endorse barebacking to roughly the same extent as some of the wildest HIV-denying gay activists of yore.

But, yes, if people can have a more relaxed relationship with the reproductive cycle, it does free them time to think more about the world. That can only be a good thing.

“I see you’re a PF fan, too. Here are the Gat Brothers and their cover of Shine on You Crazy Diamond. Hope you like it.”

Thanks. I do avoid publicising here some of my wilder musical tastes. And I can go into very disturbing abstract shit. But maybe you’ll recognise this 1967 “tube” from the same guy:

Trying to rather stay mellow with what music I post here. It needs to be mellow and have texts in english relevant to the conversation, so my choices are constrained.

@ Narad

You linked to two articles, the one listed Kerala as 2nd lowest in poverty. The World Bank article: “Kerala’s women are more educated and healthier than those in other statesKerala has made significant progress in health and education. Educational attainment and learning levels are among the highest in the country, while infant mortality are among the lowest.” Though the World Bank also stated there are pockets of poverty.”

However, maybe you should also check out Wikipedia. Kerala Model.
It states: “A set of high material quality-of-life indicators coinciding with moderate per-capita incomes, both distributed across nearly the entire population of Kerala. A set of wealth and resource redistribution programmes that have largely brought about the high material quality-of-life indicators. The article focuses on the Human Development Index, based on “Life Expectancy, Education and per-capita GDP” “Kerala Religious harmony is the most famous in India for not having communal religious violence for more than 1 century. The basis for the state’s impressive health standards is the statewide infrastructure of primary health centres. infant mortality in 2011 was 12 per thousand, compared with 91 for low-income countries generally. Kerala’s birth rate is 14 per 1,000 females and falling fast. India’s rate is 25 per 1,000 females and that of the U.S. is 16. According to the India State Hunger Index, Kerala is one of the four states where hunger is only moderate. Hunger index score of Kerala is 17.66 and is next only to Punjab. Nation hunger index of India is 23.31.”

“Kerala, a state in India, is a bizarre anomaly among developing nations, a place that offers real hope for the future of the Third World. Though not much larger than Maryland, Kerala has a population as big as California’s and a per capita annual income of less than $300. But its infant mortality rate is very low, its literacy rate among the highest on Earth, and its birthrate below America’s and falling faster. Kerala’s residents live nearly as long as Americans or Europeans. Though mostly a land of paddy-covered plains, statistically Kerala stands out as the Mount Everest of social development; there’s truly no place like it.” Note that the Wikipedia article says last updated June 14, 2020. Note the tables in the article that compares Kerala with other Indian states, etc.

Check out also: Mathew (2001 Jan 9). Amartya Sen & the “Kerala Model” at:

https://web.archive.org/web/20081011090100/http://www.hinduonnet.com/2001/01/09/stories/05092523.htm

And Wikipedia. Kerala:

The economy of Kerala is the 10th-largest in India with ₹7.82 trillion (US$110 billion) in gross state domestic product (GSDP) and a per capita GSDP of ₹204,000 (US$2,900).[2][13] Kerala has the lowest positive population growth rate in India, 3.44%; the highest Human Development Index (HDI), 0.784 in 2018 (0.712 in 2015); the highest literacy rate, 93.91% in the 2011 census; the highest life expectancy, 77 years; and the highest sex ratio, 1,084 women per 1,000 men.

So, what did I write that was incorrect? It has the 10th-largest economy in India. I said not among the wealthest; but you question that. I do my homework; but, as usual, you seem to want to question me or just be an irritant. Why?

@ JustaTech,

"Birth control is about choice."

Of course it is but with one exception; female sterilization. The US Collaborative Review of Sterilization (CREST) used very poor standards to declare surgical sterilization as safe & without long-term health consequences. Motivated by Kissinger-era population control politics. It is not without long term consequences.

The US Collaborative Review of Sterilization (CREST) used very poor standards to declare surgical sterilization as safe & without long-term health consequences.

Yah. Now, get off your self-satisfied ass and explain why in your own words.

Sorry, what was your point?

I wasn’t talking about any specific kind of birth control, long-acting or short-term. I was talking about birth control as a concept, not any specific method. Modern birth control, not something from 60 years ago that is obviously outdated and irrelevant.

Did I mention that my brother and I were adopted? I mean, is this a matter of intent? Some sort of Lamarckian stain?

@ Narad

“Did I mention that my brother and I were adopted?”

You did mention somewhere that your mother wasn’t your biological mother.

“Some sort of Lamarckian stain?”

Not sure if you intended this one to really be a question.

Orac, you take everything out of context and deny scientific findings and statements by those who have an alternative narrative to authorities which, before this situation, was the official narrative and drove practice and policies. If you’re gonna write an article and critize one approach, the truth sits in the middle, in the common ground. Where is your research on the other version of events? You are bias, same as big media. It’s very sad and worrying how this spreads like a deadly virus, killing people’s critical thinking. The virus responsible for covid-19 is no more of a killer than other diseases and pathogenes. That is a fact. Check the statistics. So everything else aside, a state of alarm / alert and declaration by the WHO of a pandemic is not justified, it’s unlawful and a sign of how many people are hypnotized, you included. The powers that this declaration give to authorities in each country in the name of safety means that we are stripped off human rights that we have fought for so hard. People have died defending or unintentionally inspiring and driving the progression of human rights.Yet a simple declaration of the WHO crash quite a few of those to dust… Safety and physical wellbeing goes beyond attempting to stop the world on its feet. In fact, the damage created by the isolation, the fear, the lack of physical contact… spreaded to those who might have had a chance to survive, let alone die with dignity. The rest of us faces the same with an added stressor of financial uncertainty. Your lack of research on all of these facts that were well known before the WHO’s declaration, leading one of the biggest mass panicking of the modern age, is disgraceful and dangerous. People have died in big numbers all at once not because there is a pathogen in the air. We face that more and more everyday. They have died because the areas (not even countries) where population’s density is huge, population’s age is high and public services have been depleted to the ground due to corrupted governments and royal families who have embezzled public money left, right and centre. Get your facts right. This is not a health challenge. This is a societal challenge. This is an ethical challenge. This is an spiritual challenge. Very few people question man made deaths such this happening in wars, where not thousands but millions die… please….

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