The Death of Expertise

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Before the scourge of racism was declared the #1 threat to public safety by our omniscient moral overlords, there was this terrifying novel coronavirus known as COVID-19.

Remember that?

The country was shut down on a dime and people were warned of the dire consequences of recklessly irresponsible acts such as—gasp!—attending church or getting a haircut. Masks quickly became new status symbol to show one’s care for their fellow human, standing in start contrast to those sociopathic traitors who would dare protest on capitol grounds for the trivial right to say, operate their own businesses and support their own families.

Then, the unthinkable happened. Our current president, the Hitler-incarnate known as Donald J. Trump, had the audacity to suggest an antiviral medication, hydroxychloriquine (HCQ), that had been in mass production for the better part of 70 years and routinely used by our armed forces the world over. Furthermore, HCQ is a prescription med, meaning it would have to be administered by one’s doctor anyway. But that didn’t stop the apocalypse brigade from sounding the alarm that the President of the United States was hellbent on poisoning the population with an unproven med.

And as is par for the course, it didn’t take long for partisans with fancy titles to lend their credentials to the anti-Trump cause, releasing a study in The Lancet and New England Journal of Medicine warning of the deadly consequences of heeding the president’s advice.

But now, thanks to the decentralized information structure that makes science beautiful, we know that study to be a #BigFat fake.

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The Scam:

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On May 22nd the Lancet published the OMG BLOCKBUSTER study which found HCQ to be associated with a higher mortality rate in Covid-19 patients and increased heart problems.

The Lancet study claimed to have analysed Surgisphere data collected from nearly 96,000 patients with Covid-19, admitted to 671 hospitals from their database of 1,200 hospitals around the world, who received hydroxychloroquine alone or in combination with antibiotics.

The negative findings made global news and prompted the WHO to halt the hydroxychloroquine arm of its global trials.

But whaddayaknow…only days later Guardian Australia revealed glaring errors in the Australian data included in the study. The study said researchers gained access to data through Surgisphere from five hospitals, recording 600 Australian Covid-19 patients and 73 Australian deaths as of April 21st.

But data from Johns Hopkins University shows only 67 deaths from Covid-19 had been recorded in Australia by 21 April. The number did not rise to 73 until 23 April. Lancet said one Asian hospital had accidentally been included in the Australian data, leading to an overestimate of cases there. The Lancet published a small retraction related to the Australian findings after the Guardian’s story, its only amendment to the study so far.

Here is a list of the glaring issues uncovered by the excellent work of The Guardian:

  • A search of publicly available material suggests several of Surgisphere’s employees have little or no data or scientific background. An employee listed as a science editor appears to be a science fiction author and fantasy artist whose professional profile suggests writing is her fulltime job. Another employee listed as a marketing executive is an adult model and events hostess, who also acts in videos for organisations.
  • The company’s LinkedIn page has fewer than 100 followers and last week listed just six employees. This was changed to three employees as of Wednesday.
  • While Surgisphere claims to run one of the largest and fastest hospital databases in the world, it has almost no online presence. Its Twitter handle has fewer than 170 followers, with no posts between October 2017 and March 2020.
  • Until Monday, the get in touch” link on Surgisphere’s homepage redirected to a WordPress template for a cryptocurrency website, raising questions about how hospitals could easily contact the company to join its database.
  • Desai has been named in three medical malpractice suits, unrelated to the Surgisphere database. In an interview with the Scientist, Desai previously described the allegations as “unfounded”.
  • In 2008, Desai launched a crowdfunding campaign on the website Indiegogo promoting a wearable “next generation human augmentation device that can help you achieve what you never thought was possible”. The device never came to fruition.
  • Desai’s Wikipedia page has been deleted following questions about Surgisphere and his history, first raised in 2010.

Bottom Line:

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Joe Biden compared taking HCQ to “drinking bleach.” Liberal pundits and reporters the world over equated President Trump’s advocacy of HCQ with a campaign to kill the grandmothers of his supports. The truth was, the media and the rabid partisan crowd they serve were so desperate to undermine the president, they promoted junk science that could very well have cost lives, as their hysteria caused a wide ranging study to be stopped in its tracks.

Surgisphere, the company responsible for constructing this monstrosity, has a handful of employees appear that include a science fiction writer and a porn star. The company has provided data for multiple studies on Covid-19 co-authored by its chief executive, but has so far failed to adequately explain its data or methodology. This utter lack of vetting can only be explained in to ways: incompetence or malevolence.

I’m willing to bet every meager cent in my name that had the study sung the praises of HCQ, Surgisphere would have been vetted to the moon and back and nothing would have been publicized without thorough peer review.

Unfortunately, the termites of hyper partisan social engineering have dined so long as well that our most sensitive institutions have been reached. Thank God for the scientific process. Thank God for decentralized information. Thank God that scientific data cannot remain hidden from view but so long.

The soulless actors who would bring down our country will assume any disguise to do so, be it a black mask in the street or a white coat in a lab. Be wary of those operatives with fancy titles, for their damage lasts long after the smoke has cleared from our cities.

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A Viral Game-Changer

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Remember that phrase “asymptomatic spread.” You should, because it’s been the boogeyman behind nearly everything we’ve done to combat coronavirus since it reached our shores.

The idea is that even people who show no symptoms of the virus and carry it unwittingly could be spreading it around just the same. This is dangerous because it truly makes the Wuhan virus an ‘invisible enemy,’ meaning it could be anywhere at any time, being spread by everyone from coughing kids to marathon-running pictures of health. The prospect of asymptomatic spread changed everything about our lives.

And now, according to the World Health Organization, we’re not even sure it’s a problem.

A top WHO official today said that it appears “very rare” for an asymptomatic person with the coronavirus to transmit it to another person, a revelation that could change everything about how we’re dealing with this virus.

“From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for the WuFlu.

She noted that the answer is not definitive. “We are constantly looking at this data, and we’re trying to get more information from countries to truly answer this question,” she said. “It still appears to be rare that an asymptomatic individual actually transmits onward.”

She said the WHO has information reported by countries that has not been published in studies, finding that detailed contact tracing has not found significant spread from asymptomatic people.

“We have a number of reports from countries who are doing very detailed contact tracing. They’re following asymptomatic cases, they’re following contacts, and they’re not finding secondary transmission onward,” Van Kerkhove said. “It’s very rare. Much of that is not published in the literature.”

It should be noted, however, that Van Kerkhove’s assertion is meeting some resistance.

Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, doubts the WHO’s claim and said he thinks asymptomatic transmission is, in fact, an important source of spread and that some modeling shows as much as 40 to 60 percent of transmission is from people without symptoms.

Jha said it’s possible the WHO is making a distinction between asymptomatic spread and presymptomatic spread, when someone eventually develops symptoms but spreads the virus before they do.

If it is indeed true that asymptomatic spread of the virus is very rare, it would make it easier to contain the transmission because there would be less worry about people unwittingly spreading the virus as they went about their lives without any symptoms.

Van Kerkhove said the focus should be on tracking the symptomatic cases.

“If we actually followed all of the symptomatic cases, isolated those cases, followed the contacts and quarantined those contacts, we would drastically reduce [transmission],” she said.

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Big Picture:

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No one knows a damn thing.

The WHO has (admittedly incomplete) data that suggest asymptomatic transmission to be a rare occurrence. Meanwhile, some Harvard nerd claims their models reflect asymptotic transmission to *possibly* be occurring at a clip of 40-60%. The question is, on what assumptions do those Harvard models based? If you’ll recall, our initial shutdown was also based on fancy models from an elite school, namely the Imperial College of London. Those models predicted upwards of 2 millions deaths in the U.S., which led to draconian shutdown measures directed straight from the White House.

And the scientist responsible for that model, indeed responsible for terrifying the world, Neal Ferguson, was breaking his own social distancing rules the entire time by sneaking his girlfriend into his home (Ferguson was apparently uninterested in contact tracing for his lady friend, possibly for the best).

In the end, this is all shaping up to be a moot point. The American people have largely discarded the shutdown, as businesses and social gathering have resumed to normal over the past month. The fear is wearing off; the People have decided to live again. And with the protests over the past week showing selective outrage within the media over “killing grandma,” it’s hard to imagine anything the Ministry of Truth says making much of an impact.

Corona cases may be poised to skyrocket. Or maybe not. Either way, American is moving forward.

While the possible death of Grandma has consumed our attention throughout this ordeal, perhaps its most lasting legacy is the death of expertise.

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