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Aaron Ross Powell exposes the deep danger posed by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) [2]. A slice:

Hawley rejects the idea that “liberty is all about choosing your own ends,” [3] a notion he derogatorily dismisses as Pelagian after a heretical 5th century British monk who believed that free will gave individuals the tools for their own salvation without the aid of clerical authorities. In fact, he sees freedom as a destructive turn away from a purer way of life that is constrained by social hierarchies and tradition. Liberty, he objects, [3] “is a philosophy of liberation from family and tradition, of escape from God and community, a philosophy of self-creation and unrestricted, unfettered free choice.” He believes liberty has led to a country that is riven by conflict, marked by a distasteful cosmopolitanism, thanks to an overly welcoming attitude toward foreign people and ideas. It has made America too open to the outside world when it should focus on promoting a socially conservative working class protected by impenetrable borders.

But Hawley’s antipathy toward liberty runs deeper than his view of national interest. As far as he is concerned, [4] your freedom to choose your own happiness “denigrates the common affections and common loves that make our way of life possible.” Hawley employs the phrase “our way of life” narrowly. It’s not what you find in America’s bustling, multicultural cities. Rather, it’s present in small towns, traditional families, strong churches, and blue-collar work. These sustain the kind of cultural homogeneity that fosters nationalistic unity, in his telling. Hawley believes the reason all of America doesn’t look like a Midwestern small town is because Hollywood, Big Tech, and foreigners are constantly injecting their alien ideas and cultures everywhere. Thus the proper role of government, which Hawley aspires to direct, is to use social and industrial policy to undo these influences and to impose a “happiness” that isn’t freely chosen.

Since entering the Senate, Hawley’s political project has been to harness Trumpism’s infatuation with an imagined “real America” into the service of a more intellectual and effective authoritarian movement.

Writing in the New York Times, Russ Roberts reflects on mature decision-making [5]. A slice:

Human beings want purpose. We want meaning. We want to belong to something larger than ourselves. The decisions we make in the face of wild problems don’t just lead to good days and bad days. They define us. They determine who we are, who we might aspire to become, who we might come to be.

Swedish sociologist Charlotta Stern, writing at National Review, explains the reality of the Swedish labor market [6].

GMU Econ alum Ninos Malek identifies eight keys to thinking like a (sound) economist [7]. A slice:

The complaint that businesses can charge “whatever they want” is nonsense. For example, why is it that movie theaters only charge $8 for popcorn and not $8,000 or $8,000,000 if they can supposedly charge whatever they want? There are two sides to a market transaction, and it’s this interaction of sellers and buyers that determines the price. What’s interesting is that many times the same people complaining are the ones making noise eating that popcorn during the movie.

Phil Magness plausibly predicts, on his Facebook page, that “historian” (so called) Quinn Slobodian’s forthcoming book will feature some fraudulence à la Nancy MacLean [8]. (DBx: For the public record I note again the possibility that Nancy MacLean’s many egregious errors are perhaps due, not to any unsavory intention on her part, but instead to mind-blowing stupidity and grotesque carelessness. I assume that the same might be true of Mr. Slobodian’s work.)

Michael Deacon advises his fellow Brits to “ignore the heatwave hysteria.” [9] A slice:

Climate activists seem to think that the heatwave [10] was like nothing this country has ever seen before. But this isn’t entirely true. In the summer of 1911 – long before cars filled the roads and planes filled the skies – Britain endured a heatwave that was only slightly less hot than this week’s, with temperatures reaching 98.1F (36.7C). The main difference is that it lasted far longer. Rather than two days, it lasted two months.

Wall Street Journal columnist Andy Kessler is correct: “effective altruism” is neither [11]. A slice:

It’s the classic progressive playbook: Raise taxes to fund their pet projects but not yours or mine. I don’t care if altruists spend their own money trying to prevent future risks from robot invasions or green nanotech goo, but they should stop asking American taxpayers to waste money on their quirky concerns.

Most people have been infected with the virus, epidemiologists say, even if some don’t realize it [12]“.

el gato malo has the evidence that Deborah Birx is lying about her earlier attitude toward covid vaccines [13].

Kbirb tweets [14]:

States with fewer children vaccinated for COVID have significantly higher levels of protective antibody seroprevalence among their youth population. The correlation value is strong. CDC and AAP sources noted.

And in an approving response to the above tweet by Kbirb, Nobel laureate Michael Levitt tweets [15]:

Looks convincing with correlation coefficient of 0.77. How do the experts in CDC & WHO explain this?

William Briggs offers “a people’s history of covid-19.” [16] Three slices:

Enter Neil Ferguson, a well known infectious disease epidemiologist at the Imperial College of London and serial fornicator of reality. He and his Imperial College team’s model predicted millions of dead [17] in the USA by mid-summer, 2020. Even if his lockdown recommendations were heeded.

Not only was this scary, but Ferguson said that his model was done on a computer, which for some became proof of its veracity.

What many do not understand is that every model, of every kind, in any application, on any platform, only says what it is told to say. This used to be a bedrock principle of science. It was forgotten, however, when people wanted to pass off models as independent evidence.

At the time, a few of us were amazed Ferguson was listened to. He had made a career of being wildly wrong, predicting medical catastrophe after catastrophe, none of which ever happened. My co-authors Jay Richards and Doug Axe and I documented his serial failures in The Price of Panic: How the Tyranny of Experts Turned a Pandemic into a Catastrophe.

In 2001, Ferguson asked for mass culling of beasts in the UK because of foot and mouth disease. This cost around 10 billion pounds. His model was called by Michael Thrusfield, professor of veterinary epidemiology at Edinburgh University, “severely flawed” and a “serious error.”

In 2002 he said between 50 and 150,000 people would die from mad cow disease. 177 died. That’s in the window, but both the UK and US governments fixated on the upper number. In 2004 he said “up to” 200 million would die from bird flu. The WHO agreed with him. Turns out fewer than 300 died from 2003 to 2009. And in 2009 he predicted a global 0.4% mortality rate for swine flu. That would have been about 65,000 dead in UK. 457 died.

And in 2020 anybody with a calculator, if they had wanted to, could have noticed Ferguson’s model was predicting 56,000 dead per day in the US somewhere around June 2020. This was not sane. But its very insanity caused more people to believe it.

…..

It’s odd. In medicine before 2020, cases were separate from infections.

A case was a patient seeking or requiring treatment, such as by a hospitalization. A case was infected, but not all infected people became cases. It became “fake news” to remind people of this. Or to suggest that anybody who was infected wasn’t going to have a near-death experience.

This was helped along by all the usual sources. We were treated to images of the pitiful withering away in oxygen tents inside sealed rooms, attended by space-suit wearing dancing nurses. Everybody, they said, could suffer this—if they didn’t listen to their betters.

It wasn’t until September of 2021 that the CDC quietly released a report stating that 15% of those infected never knew it. And that most infections were mild.

…..

Government rulers can’t keep a panic going forever. The world is not static. Energy flags. Priorities shift. They’ve been lucky with votes, the world over, but luck never lasts. In the US, there is no chance any candidate in the midterms will run on a lockdown platform.

The bureaucracy, however, is indefatigable. Their Experts can keep a low grade panic going indefinitely. They will try. There will be a host of new regulations to track all kinds of new diseases, real and imagined. Their budgets have swollen, and there’s no way they’re going to give up.

John Tierney says that it’s time to award the covid Nobels [18]. Two slices:

The frontrunner for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, according to the bets placed with British bookmakers, is the World Health Organization. It’s hard to imagine a worse choice. (Okay, Vladimir Putin.) The bettors’ theory is that the Nobel committee will honor the WHO for its efforts in fighting Covid-19—but it would be absurd to reward an organization that began the pandemic by spreading deadly misinformation, went on to promote disastrous policies, and now seeks new powers to do even more damage next time.

The Nobel jurors in Norway should be honoring the pandemic’s true heroes, starting with an obvious candidate across their border: Anders Tegnell, the state epidemiologist of Sweden. While the WHO and the rest of the world panicked, he kept calm. While leaders elsewhere crippled their societies, he kept Sweden free and open. While public-health officials ignored their own pre-Covid plans for a pandemic—and the reams of reports warning that lockdowns, school closures, and masks would accomplish little or nothing—Tegnell actually stuck to the plan and heeded the scientific evidence.

Journalists pilloried him for not joining in the hysteria, but he has been proven right. In Sweden, the overall rate of excess mortality [19]—a measure of the number of deaths more than normal from all causes—during the pandemic is one of the lowest in Europe. Swedish children kept going to school and did not suffer the learning loss [20] so common elsewhere. Swedish children and adults went on with their lives, following Tegnell’s advice not to wear masks as they continued going to schools, stores, churches, playgrounds, gyms, and restaurants. And fewer of them died than in most of the American states and European countries that delayed medical treatments, bankrupted businesses, impoverished workers, stunted children’s emotional and cognitive growth, and stripped their citizens of fundamental liberties.

If it hadn’t been for Tegnell and a few other heretics in places like Florida, we would not have clear evidence to prevent a similar catastrophe when the next virus arrives. Politicians and officials at the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control are still promoting useless mask mandates [21] and defending their lockdowns with scientific sleight of hand: cherry-picked data and computer models purporting to show that the measures worked. Those claims have been rebutted in hundreds of studies [22], but journalists and politicians have mostly ignored that research, preferring to parrot the claims of the WHO and CDC officials who wave away the inconvenient findings.

But they can’t easily dismiss the results in Sweden and other places that followed its strategy. The real world trumps a computer model. Tegnell forced the lock-downers and mask zealots to test their unproven theories by making Sweden the control group in a natural experiment, and he did it in the face of extraordinary pressure, as the Swedish journalist Johan Anderberg recounts in superb detail in The Herd: How Sweden Chose Its Own Path Through the Worst Pandemic in 100 Years [23].

…..

With the possible exception of the Great Depression, the lockdowns were the costliest public-policy mistake ever made during peacetime in the United States. The worst consequences of lockdowns have been endured by people in the poorest countries, which have seen devastating increases in poverty, hunger, and disease. Yet the WHO has refused to acknowledge these errors [24] and wants to change its pandemic planning to promote more lockdowns [25] in the future. It has even proposed a new global treaty [26] giving it the power to enforce its policies around the world—thereby preventing a country like Sweden from demonstrating that the policies don’t work.

The last thing the WHO deserves is encouragement from the Nobel jurors. The prize should reward those who protected the lives and liberties of millions of citizens during this pandemic, and whose work can help protect the rest of the world during the next pandemic. Besides Tegnell and Giesecke, the obvious candidates are three experts in public health who led the international effort to restore sanity to their profession: Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford, Sunetra Gupta of Oxford, and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard. In fall 2020, they issued a call to end lockdowns and school closures, the Great Barrington Declaration [27], which won signatures from tens of thousands of fellow scientists and doctors. They marshalled scientific evidence throughout the pandemic to counter Covid hysteria, and they helped persuade leaders in Florida and other places to follow successful strategies like Sweden’s.