A doctor shares steps he’ll review to decide when and where it’s safe to go out and about

William Petri, immunologist and professor of medicine at the University of Virginia reminds us that our individual behavior affects not only our own health, but that of others. These are just careful common sense, in a sense they shouldn’t even have to be stated:

— correlate level of risk-taking to data on incidence of new COVID-19 infections in the community

— extra caution if you or those with whom you will visit have risk factors for severe infection, such as age >65 or serious medical conditions

— attentiveness to knowledge about the virus’ modes of transmission

— mask-wearing, avoidance of touching surfaces, avoidance of touching face, frequent handwashing

— staying outdoors, limiting time indoors with others, social distancing

— mask wearing, avoidance of venturing out and risking infecting others if experiencing fever, cough or other symptoms of a viral syndrome

— Via The Conversation


The Dream of “Disconnected Psychology”

‘A thought-provoking paper proposes a way to advance psychology: by encouraging researchers to ignore previous work in the field.

The piece is called Unburdening the Shoulders of Giants: A Quest for Disconnected Academic Psychology and it appeared in Perspectives on Psychological Science.

According to author Dario Krpan, academic psychology is failing to fully explore the space of possible theories. In other words, it is stuck in an intellectual rut (or ruts)….’

— Via Discover


Is America too libertarian to deal with the coronavirus?

Is America too libertarian to deal with the coronavirus? – Vox:

‘Keith Humphreys, a Stanford University professor who works on addiction and public health policy, argued in a viral Twitter thread last week… that a lot of his public health colleagues weren’t thinking seriously enough about the cultural obstacles that might undercut the country’s efforts to test, trace, and isolate Americans. He later penned a Washington Post column drawing out his arguments in a little more detail.

Humphreys’s basic claim is that any plan we adopt, no matter how wise, is useless without “widespread political consent” from American citizens. And the obsession with individual liberties in America, coupled with a general distrust of government, poses an enormous challenge to even the best conceivable plan….’

— Via Vox


How the Black Death Gave Rise to British Pub Culture


‘By the 1370s, though, the Black Death had caused a critical labor shortage, the stark consequence of some 50 percent of the population perishing in the plague. Eventually, this proved a boon for the peasantry of England, who could command higher wages for their work and achieve higher standards of living. As a result, the alehouses that were simply households selling or giving away leftover ale were replaced by more commercialized, permanent establishments set up by the best brewers and offering better food.

The burial ceremony of a monk in a 14th-century English convent. DE LUAN / ALAMY
“The survivors [of the Black Death] prioritized expenditure on foodstuffs, clothing, fuel, and domestic utensils,” writes Professor Mark Bailey of the University of East Anglia, who also credits the plague for the rise of pub culture, over email. “They drank more and better quality ale; ate more and better quality bread; and consumed more meat and dairy produce. Alongside this increased disposable income, they also had more leisure time.”…’

— Via Atlas Obscura


Why Ahmaud Arbery’s killing was a lynching


‘A video recorded his last moments. In it, two white men with guns corner him as he runs near their parked pickup truck. One shoots him three times, twice in the chest. The other man is a former officer with the local police department. Both men, a father and his son, were free until that video went viral on May 5. It took 74 days after Arbery’s death before the men were put in jail and charged with murder; they now face possible federal hate crimes charges.

The video brought a level of attention to Arbery’s killing that it had not attracted until then. It also sparked national anger: People were — and are — furious that an arrest had taken so long, that police appear to have empowered one of the suspects to act as a vigilante, that a small and interconnected local criminal justice community appeared uninterested in a full investigation, and, most of all, that another young, unarmed black man had been killed over nothing….’

— Via Vox


Dept of American Idiocy (cont’d)

20b5591b ebda 450c 83e6 68407f3fc2d0The press touts a coronavirus milestone as the global count passes 5 million. Of course, the count bears the same relationship to the realities as Plato’s shadows on the cave wall. Alex Madrigal in The Atlantic covers the evidence that the CDC is making a crucial error in counting cases, underestimating fatality statistics upon which governors have been basing their reopening decisions

Imperfect as the statistics are, The WHO reported (WSJ) the largest single-day increase in infections since the outbreak began, about 40% of them in the U.S. A research team from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which uses cellphone data to track social distancing and forecast pandemic trends, warns that hotspots throughout the South suggest danger of a second wave (Washington Post) over the coming four weeks in, among other places, Dallas, Houston, Florida’s Gold Coast, and throughout Alabama. Cases are also already rising in parts of the Midwest. 

Our cognitive machinery evolved with a risk-averse bias so as not to be miss dangers that threaten survival through false optimism. It is better to prepare for the possibility that that shadow at the mouth of the cave is a marauding predator, even if it is from a leaf blowing by, than to get eaten because you lulled yourself with a false sense of security. Of course, our evolutionary machinery has been challenged by the fact that, in this case, the predator is an abstraction rather than a beast with a face. Abstraction is certainly beyond the cognitively impaired elected (and impeached) president and his anti-intellectual mob of followers.



One might argue, in a social Darwinist way, that people are entitled to make their own risk assessments, either to learn heuristically from the consequences or succumb. At some points since the emergence of CoViD, I speculated that we would see divergent mortality rates between red and blue regions of the U.S., for example. The problem is, of course, that during an epidemic, your idiocy jeopardizes me, my loved ones, many other innocents, as well as yourself, epidemiologically. To paraphrase a great social philosopher, “A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five.” 


Scarborough Spots Moment Trump Hurt 2020 Chances More ‘Than Any Democrat Ever Could’

One can only hope:

‘Joe Scarborough on Tuesday pointed out when he believes President Donald Trump did the most damage to his 2020 reelection campaign.

According to the co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Trump likely doomed himself in April and May when he pondered injecting disinfectant to treat COVID-19, talked about taking an unproven cure and declared war on various government agencies and “every doctor or every scientist or every person who had spent their entire life planning for this moment when it came to vaccines.”…’

— Via HuffPost