Puzzle Pieces


Scientists and other experts keep warning us about the coronavirus. But new cases are in decline, and the longer this decline continues, the more puzzling the warnings become.

Maybe this is why there’s been a run on jigsaw puzzles. I think people are in a puzzle-solving mood these days, the more they try to make sense of what the experts keep telling us.

In fact I want to solve a puzzle right now. I’m going to present the pieces of our Covid-19 puzzle, and then fit the pieces together, the best I can figure out. I’m no genius, as I’m sure many reading this will come to realize. And I’ll admit I’m not above using a hammer to make interlocking pieces of puzzles fit together.

Piece #1:
Experts continue to stress that there is no evidence that antibodies protect from future infections. Why do they keep stressing this, when new infections are declining, even as social distancing restrictions are being relaxed?

Piece #2:
Experts say that the more contagious a disease, the more people must possess antibodies to that disease, for us to achieve full herd immunity. Experts further claim the coronavirus is highly contagious, and that because of this, 50% to 67% of the population must have antibodies (if antibodies are even effective) before full herd immunity is possible. However, current estimates of those with coronavirus antibodies seem to range from about 5% to 10% of the population. With so few people having antibodies, why are new cases in decline in most states, at a time when social distancing restrictions are being relaxed in all states?

Piece #3:
I’ve heard some experts claim that new infections are declining because the virus doesn’t do well in warm weather. But if that’s the case then why are hot climate places such as Brazil, India, and Saudi Arabia, currently experiencing a large increase in new infections?

Piece #4:
I’ve heard some experts claim that the coronavirus will return this winter with a second wave that will be deadlier than the first. But experts also say that if antibodies give us immunity, they don’t know how long that immunity will last. If they don’t know, why do they stress a second wave in the winter? Why not in the fall, or next spring? Or one year from now? Or two years? What’s this obsession with next winter?

Piece #5:
The experts I’ve seen in the media claim to know very little about this virus. And yet, they only predict gloom and doom from it. None of them seem willing to speculate that this virus MAY be going away for good, and that there will be no significant second wave. Why aren’t they willing to balance their negative speculations with positive speculations? Why are they so intent upon fearmongering?

I’m no expert. But when I hear experts say they don’t know much about something, and then make awful, horrible predictions about it without offering flip-side possibilities, their credibility suffers with me. And so, rather than relying upon the experts, I’ve decided to think for myself and unriddle the coronavirus mystery the best I can, with my own untrained, dipshit brain. I’ll just utilize that thing that experts seem to hate the most. Which is common sense.

Here’s how I would solve the puzzle:

Piece #1:
Antibodies DO protect from future infection. This seems obvious, because new infections are in decline, even as social distancing restrictions are being relaxed, and even as testing for new infections has increased.

Piece #2:
The coronovirus is NOT as contagious as experts have warned. New infections in the U.S. are in an overall decline, even though only 5% to 10% of the population has antibodies. Social distancing restrictions are being relaxed in all states. Testing is on the increase everywhere. But rather than going up, as one might expect, new cases are in decline in most states. Apparently, herd immunity is achievable with far less than 50% to 67% of the population possessing antibodies. Therefore, this virus is probably not a highly contagious microbe.

Sure, areas of dense population, such as New York City, have been hard hit. But not sparsely populated areas. Dense populations is what this virus apparently needs, to spread quickly and pervasively, due to its lesser virility.

Piece #3:
The coronavirus is not greatly affected by weather. Warm weather will not make it go away, and cold weather will not cause it to return.

Piece #4:
The coronavirus could return in a second wave. That’s because we don’t know how long antibodies afford immunity. But if it returns, we don’t know when that return will be. It could be a month or so from now. Or it could be six months from now. Or a year or two. Or maybe 10 years from now. Or who knows, maybe never. It’s anybody’s guess at this point.

Piece #5:
Those who run the media love fearmongering. It has a track record of driving up viewership and readership. So they’re much more inclined to highlight experts that predict doom and gloom from this virus, than those who are willing to speculate that the virus MAY be going away for good.

Also, there seems to be an element of political correctness involved. It seems that a sure way to be beat up by the press, or be character-assassinated by one’s peers, is to come out and contradict anything the CDC says. Scientists who harbor doubts may also harbor a survival instinct, and thus may be keeping their mouths shut.

Add to this that it’s safer to err on the side of caution when many lives are at stake. If an expert were to concede that this virus may be going away, and that it may be safe to relax social distancing restrictions, and then a huge second wave hits, that expert would look very bad, and could lose their job. People love to blame, shame, and punish, and this can discourage professionals with high-paying jobs from sticking their necks out to predict anything but danger.

And so, when I put the pieces of this puzzle together, I see a pattern. And that pattern is a big clusterfuck of groupthink, that has led to an explosion of panic and unemployment, while keeping the jobs of experts safe. The sky is falling because we’ve brought it down upon ourselves, with the help and encouragement of experts.

It is not the coronavirus’s fault that the economy has been destroyed. It is the fault of our own fears, and our extreme reaction to our fears.

It reminds me of owls and mice. Owls are assumed to be wise, but they’re not. Like experts, they just look that way, while only possessing a narrow set of skills.

The “wise” owl catches the mouse by hooting. The mouse runs in fear, exposing itself in the open, only to be swooped down upon and snatched. Likewise, the “wise” experts have hooted, and we have run in fear and in deference to their supposed wisdom. We’ve run into our houses and allowed ourselves to be caged like lab mice, at the mercy of experts. This has resulted in an economy in shambles, with us mice left to pick up the pieces.

Including pieces of a puzzle that the experts could have kept together, with a little bit of common sense.

67 comments

  • From shitting rooms to coronavirus groupthink – I am impressed with your range of topics 🙂
    Thanks for your thoughtful piece…

    Liked by 1 person

  • It’s more of a rigged-saw based on our experiences. All data appears to be rigged to suit some strange agenda .. probably to get businesses back up to profit making speed. Clearly that’s more important than saving lives.

    Piece No. 1 is rigged because numbers will only say what the provider of them wants to say. The numbers of new infections is useless information unless you also know the numbers of tests. i.e. Reduce the testing and “Voila!” .. the infection numbers drop. Brilliant!

    Piece No.2 – Is an almost duplicate of piece No. 1. The only difference is that they are still testing COVID-19 and any data is therefore “based on what we have learned to date” … i.e. There are no definitive facts at this time.

    Piece No.3 – Is the funny piece that doesn’t fit anywhere. It’s the joke piece for reasons you presented.

    Piece No.4 – Is the piece that may, or may not, be part of the overall picture. Some people are good at designing puzzles, and some are hopeless. The hopeless ones will not admit to it, and so totally bullshit to make it fit.

    Piece No.5 – This piece makes sense to me in that we know very little about COVID-19 … which is why they are still testing! Given the general public’s response to date, should they be more negative and hope the message gets through so many thick skulls re social distancing … or should they be more positive and cheer people up? We know there are a lot of thick skulls out there which would support being more aggressive with the negatives. We don’t know enough about the virus to say anything positive, and which won’t likely backfire and totally demoralize the population. Pick one!

    As for the media????? Seriously? They compromise all morals by trying to balance the news with entertainment. Viewers/listeners stats are everything …. and their No.1 goal is to keep those numbers going up. Facts have no business in a newsroom.

    Re your thoughts? Let common sense prevail as you noted, but also note that in the business of statistics, numbers can be made to say anything a person wants them to say. Also note that despite testing going on around the world, there is so much we don’t know about this virus and so to speculate on it’s performance is risky. It really comes down to balancing what little we know … against the value we put on life, always remembering that if we are prepared to gamble with our own life based on the current data, we will inherently be also gambling on the lives of those around us. i.e. If we are prepared to take a chance on catching it, then we must acknowledge that we could spread it.

    My position? It is really simple. I am treating it as a highly contagious and potentially fatal virus. If I am wrong, then I have lost little. If I am right, I could survive it. In total contrast, if I make assumptions that it is on the decrease etc. etc., and I am wrong ….. the results could be disastrous.

    My life will return to something close to normal after I have received the vaccine for this virus, and probably no earlier! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • A vaccine would definitely be nice.
      I don’t have much problem staying home, because I’m retired. It’s my job to stay home. And by the way, I sleep on the job, and get paid for it.
      But someone who’s unemployed and scrambling to find food to eat might not like staying home. They have to provide for their families, and so I understand when they may want lockdowns to end, and return to their jobs. That’s a gamble many such people prefer to take.

      Liked by 3 people

  • I am happy that you are so optimistic, so when things go south, if they go south, I hope you don’t lose it. From where we are, able to look objectively with more accurate sources of information (because our news doesn’t have an axe to grind) your statement that cases are declining is wrong. The new infections figure rises from 20,000 to 25,000 a day. That is not a disease in decline, but, optimistically, it’s not a dramatic upturn. Yet.
    It might happen, it might not, but a hysterical media serves one purpose, other than distributing fake news, it makes the majority of the ‘sensible’ population think twice before rushing out madly and causing a second wave.
    So, yours or our media might be a bunch of liars, yours or our politicians or lawmakers might be a bunch of liars, or not. No country is perfect, and people from all sides of the fence always have a self-serving agenda. The trick is realising that, and for your own part, try to stay safe based on the consideration that at least some of what you are being told is the truth, hidden amongst a great many lies. After all, if we were not debating this, so many more of your countrymen would be either infected or dead. Certainly, it’s making a lot of people think twice, and that’s a good thing.
    And, remember, getting it and beating it, is one thing, the ongoing trauma resulting from it in the future, well, that’s going to be a second wave of a different colour. We are only now seeing what the real after-effects are.
    Dig a little deeper, find out more, and read some of the discussion papers being published in the ‘respected’ medical journals. It doesn’t make pretty reading.
    Don’t get bogged down in the day to day mumbo jumbo, and try not to be distracted from what’s really going on. The more outlandish the statement, the more it is distracting you from the truth.
    And most important in all of this, if you throw enough mud, some of it sticks.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well it’s all very confusing, that’s for sure. The disease itself is very serious for some who catch it. Those with underlying conditions are best advised to be cautious and do what it takes to avoid it.
      But as for the young and healthy, I personally don’t mind if they catch it. They’re not likely to have serious symptoms, and I figure if they get the antibodies, it increases herd immunity for everyone. I just want them to stay away from me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • This is the problem with misinformation, and mud throwing ,,, the young and healthy are dying too, not as high a percentage as the elderly and the underlying problems group, but they are dying.
        The sad fact is, if you get it you might die.
        In fact it’s like Russian Roulette, five people out of six might survive, but there’s always one who doesn’t.
        Don’t believe everything you’re told. Sweden have gone down the path of herd immunity, and they have the highest death rate per million citizens in the world.
        I think that’s what they’re trying to achieve in Brazil, and it’s a mess there too.
        All I’m saying, be careful what you wish for.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I don’t believe everything I’m told from either side of this debate. But about 90% of the message, from what I’ve heard, seems to come from the pro-lockdown side. I want to see more balance. I distrust one-sided messages. If those who are pro-lockdown want to be trusted, they’ve got to encourage a more balanced debate, in my view.
          As for Sweden and Brazil, I can point to South Dakota and Georgia. And we can go on down the line pointing out different examples that support both sides, ad nauseum.
          I agree with being careful about what one wishes for. But that’s the point. We had an immediate shutdown of the economy, with draconian, one-size-fits-all measures, and not a careful, measured shutdown. Now it looks like we’re having a careful, gradual reopening of the economy. I’m glad to know we are finally being careful.

          Liked by 1 person

  • Surely your lock-downs allow an individual to get food and other critical supplies? Assuming yes, then I don’t understand the argument. We have anti lockdown people here as well, but they are just tired of being restricted and are not thinking beyond that. Their thought process does not go beyond “I’ll probably be safe, and it’s my life anyway.” Sadly the fact that this virus is seemingly highly contagious does not infiltrate into their brains.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe this is where you and I are not in agreement. I doubt that it’s highly contagious. And as for those itching to get out and about, I say let them. I suspect we’re very close to herd immunity, and the more who get out and catch the virus, the sooner full herd immunity will be achieved, and the less people like you and I have to worry about catching it.
      But I could be wrong. What the hell do I know? I’m no expert. And experts don’t seem to know much either.

      Like

      • Well the bottom line really must be whether you are prepared to risk the lives of others based on your beliefs. I do not necessarily disagree with your assessment of the situation, but we so seem to differ in our sense of responsibility as a result. C’est la vie I guess.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, I guess we’re not in agreement on the responsibility issue. The way I see it, if I drive my car down the highway, I might screw up and accidentally kill someone. That’s a chance I take when I drive. But that’s not going to stop me from driving. Nor will it stop anyone else from risking my life when they drive. But so far, driving hasn’t been banned. We have to live our lives, and take the gambles that living involves.
          Consider how dreary life would be, and is right now for many, when we limit ourselves to only those things considered “essential”. To enjoy life we must take gambles. We can do what is reasonable to minimize the risks, but if we’re too scared to take risks, life loses its luster and becomes a boring exercise in just breathing.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Life is certainly a gamble, but we are gambling with things out of our control. COVID-19 is a gamble if we make it so. So many anti-lockdown people quote their rights; their willingness to take the risks; their disbelief in advisories …. but they all totally miss the point. The point is not to risk spreading it to others, and you cannot do that if you put yourself in a position of contact. If I decided to go about my normal life and ended up getting COVID-19 … that would be the result of my decision. I don’t see any rationale that supports the same argument if I happened to spread it to somebody else. i.e. I can take risks with my own health, but I have no right to take risks with somebody else’s health.

            Re your driving analogy? Totally different, in that your driving is composed of a skill set which got you your license; many laws on how you must drive under varying scenarios, and a legal process should you screw up. i.e. you are expected to drive responsibly.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Well I can see we haven’t convinced each other of anything. But thanks for all the food for thought.
              Regardless of what strategies our governments employ in the future, I hope you’ll stay free and clear of the virus, and in good health.

              Liked by 2 people

              • No problem from here! Our numbers dropped last week, but then we found out that the testing volume was much less than usual. Duh! We also (today) learned that our national stats are of little relevance because Ontario misses the deadline for any given set of stats. Various levels of government are doing there own thing so its a big mess really. 🙂

                Liked by 2 people

  • It is indeed a puzzle, that describes it well! My husband and I keep going back and forth on the issue, for its so hard to really know. I know some things but not all. (surprises you, doesn’t it!)
    Anyway here is what I know. That too much of me listening to the news or reading the news drives me insane, and can scare me. Fear can be healthy, as it can keep you from doing dangerous things, but it also can overwhelm you and keep you from living. I know I want a balance. I want to live life to the fullest as much as I can, but I also want to use common sense, but I don’t want to be controlled by fear. Its a fine line between the two! This is something we have never experienced before. I want the experts to be wrong, i want this virus to end and no second wave to come and for it to not be as contagious as what they say, but until I know for sure those answers I also want to be safe. I also long to embrace people and visit people and…. its like going around in circles, as we wait to see what the outcome is and waiting has never been an easy task for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It can be hard to know what’s safe and what isn’t when there are two camps of people saying two different things.
      I believe that if I step outside, my chances of dying increase from any cause, even if there was not virus. But if I stay cooped up inside, I might die of boredom. Life is always a gamble, and we can’t live it to the fullest unless we’re willing to take some chances.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Its being smart about the chances that we decide to take. For instance the daredevil type people that try to come up with dangerous feats for themselves to do…well…..I am not sure how smart I would call them!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I don’t know what smart is. Maybe the daredevils would have to be very smart to figure out how to keep from being killed. Those that aren’t so smart, well, let’s just say they have short careers.
          Speaking as a moderate, to me the smartest thing is to find a compromise I feel most comfortable with, between the two extremes. And in this case that entails being willing to shop, dine out, and visit with others, while also maintaining a reasonable distance. Those who aren’t so comfortable with that can be more conservative in their approach. Perhaps that makes me a dummkopf, but at least I’m a comfortable dummkopf.

          Liked by 1 person

    • I find this a parallel to the “God” philosophy:

      If you believe in a God and he/she does NOT exist, you have lost nothing. However, if you do not believe in a God and he/she DOES exist … there could be some problems!

      As noted to TG, if you believe that COVID-19 is highly contagious with potential fatal results and you are wrong, you have lost nothing of value. However, if you believe that the whole thing is blown out proportion to reality and live accordingly … and you are wrong, either you or someone close to you could lose their life as a result. It’s really not complicated! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Help me understand this, Colin. How is the loss of 38 million jobs, and an economy that has crashed into a great depression, not the loss of something of value?
        Children are starving in our country as a result of our fear of this virus. That too me is a pretty big loss.

        Like

        • Yes I agree, and it is the result of serious virus that is world-wide. Do you really think that the solution is to gamble on possible misinformation and hope the “experts” are wrong? Who will you blame if the lock-down was lifted and there was a major resurgence of COVID-19. What would you suggest would then be a course of action? Presumably not another major lock-down?

          You do understand that your country’s population could be decimated? The numbers we are getting is that, based on our track record to date, 75% of people who get this virus will survive. Nice numbers until you flip the coin and note that 25% do not survive. You (USA) have a population in excess of 300M, which means that unless drastic measures are taken, you could lose over 75M people! Each of us has to determine our own values , because we will ultimately have to live with the outcome of those values.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Well, perhaps you and I have been looking at different information. Anyway, as I said before, it appears we won’t be convincing each other of anything. But thanks for the lively discussion. 🙂

            Like

  • I wouldn’t touch this discussion with a 10-foot test swab! I don’t think anyone knows much about anything, so I just do my best to keep myself, my family, and everyone else as safe as possible.

    Liked by 2 people

  • I’m as confused as you are, Tippy. For now, I’m staying in as much as I can. There are lots of people who want to get haircuts and eat out; I’m happy to let them be the guinea pigs. If COVID cases spike after my state re-opens, I’ll know it was smart to continue to stay home. If they don’t, I’ll be more willing to venture out. Good handwashing is a sound practice no matter what. I’m fine with wearing a mask when I go out–it couldn’t hurt, and might help. I’ve saved a lot of money by not racing out to buy stuff I don’t really need. This crisis has taught me to be creative and make do, habits I plan to continue. I was always hermit-ish, so lockdown was normal life, but mandated and slightly more restricted. I’m looking forward to reopening because I won’t have to listen to people bitch about quarantine anymore. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good idea–let others be the guinea pigs. I’m kind of a hermit, too, but my wife isn’t. She’s really been chafing at this lockdown, so I can understand how it can be tiresome hearing people bitch about it. I hope COVID cases don’t spike, and so far it looks like they haven’t. They’ve gone up a little in some states, but mostly they’re going down. Let’s hope it stays that way.

      Like

  • Now that Corona has been mentioned, I have a sudden craving for beer.

    Liked by 1 person

  • In trying to make sense of this, I look at the data that the Texas Health and Human Services publishes daily and look at two data points.

    Hospitalizations: These are people in which COVID19 is severe enough to hospitalize them. They can’t test and account for all of those with milder symptoms, so the total positive cases seems to be statistically irrelevant. But hospitalization rates would seem to be relevant data and that data is flat and steady.

    Fatalities: Perhaps the most statistically accurate statistic from this event, assuming they have diagnosed every fatality. This is a bit of a lagging indicator, but I think that it is more reliable than the others. This data also appears to be flat.

    So to me, the COVID19 situation in Texas seems to be stable with a reproduction rate of about 1 as the experts say.

    I have the ability to productively work from home for the rest of the year, but I know that many cannot. So, we have to allow people to pay the bills. I just wish people would do so with more intelligence and less arrogance.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s great news from Texas. Hopefully the flat line will start declining.
      I guess some people will act like fools no matter what. It’s not too hard to avoid breathing on others, and to keep a respectful distance, and hopefully most people will use their common sense in that regard.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Most of what u said I don’t fully agree with except: experts want to err on side of caution. I hope they do. We don’t want millions killed because we wanted to believe it wouldn’t be bad. Your rationale fits almost exactly what people said in 1918 about Spanish flu. And millions died in 1919 in the second stronger wave. One big fact correction. One of the most rural areas I the country has the worst infection rates. Navajo nation could be a road map of what happens in the rest of rural America.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t see how we can compare this with the flu. The flu tends to go away in warm weather, whereas coronavirus cases are currently increasing in places like Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and India.
      Good point about the Navajo nation, which could be extended to other Native American tribes as well. It’s a strange anomaly, since most rural areas have not been hit hard. I’d want to look into their social habits. Are they maintaining physical distance? Are they wearing masks?

      Like

  • Comparison to the “Spanish Flu” which was not like a flu at all either… Most things on the Navajo nation are more complicated than most rural areas. They have to travel and gather for basic supplies like food and water, and then live in small multi-generational housing… But once it gets into any rural community, it can spread just as easily.

    Liked by 1 person

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