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This letter-to-the-editor in the Wall Street Journal is spot-on:

Regarding “Notable & Quotable: Lockdown” (Jan. 7): David Wallace-Wells, writing in the New York Times, identifies nine pandemic narratives that are wrong, including that the U.S. ever had lockdowns at all. The frame of reference for Mr. Wallace-Wells isn’t the freedom that Americans enjoyed prepandemic, but the lockdowns imposed by other countries such as China. Yes, some U.S. states had shelter-in-place policies that disrupted lives, he grants, but that inconvenience was nothing compared with draconian lockdowns elsewhere.

In 2020, journalists at the New York Times and most other news organizations pounded home the narrative that the Trump administration’s incompetence and failure to order strict nationwide lockdowns and masking resulted in tens or hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths. Now that we are living with collateral damage even from what Mr. Wallace-Wells says were “remarkably light” lockdowns, journalists on the left are going with a narrative of “it could have been much worse” in a global context.

In a domestic context, however, it could have been much better, if only blue states had followed the lead of red states with the shortest and least disruptive lockdowns. Mistakes made by the rest of the world are interesting, but the land of the free and the home of the brave is, thank God, not yet merely a follower of the pack.

Pat Evans
Melbourne, Fla.

White House extends COVID-19 public health emergency once again.” [DBx: What say those of you who discount the dangers of government using covid as an excuse to grab and keep even more unwarranted power? I believe that these authors, writing back in May 2020, had a valid point.]

Wall Street Journal columnist Allysia Finley writes insightfully about covid-vaccine hesitancy. Two slices:

But surveys show that most Americans, including those who didn’t get Covid shots, don’t distrust vaccines in general. Public views on Covid vaccines are more complicated because they are new and haven’t been thoroughly studied. The experts are responsible for vaccine skepticism because they aren’t honest about the potential risks.


Scientists continue to study and make new discoveries about the virus; the same goes for vaccines. An article in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation last week found a link between myocarditis in teens and higher circulating levels of vaccine spike proteins in the blood. The authors found no correlation with vaccine antibody or T-cell responses, suspected by many as the cause of myocarditis.

A Dec. 22 study in Science Immunology found that repeated mRNA vaccines increased production of a specific class of antibodies known as IgG4, which is associated with immune tolerance. That’s when the immune system continually encounters a foreign agent, learns it isn’t lethal, and stops targeting it. In the case of the vaccine spike protein, IgG4 could make people more susceptible to future Covid infection.

Data Doesn’t Support New COVID-19 Booster Shots for Most, Says Vaccine Expert.” (HT Peter Minowitz)

GMU Econ alum Matt Kibbe tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

Donald Trump managed to embrace all the wrong policies during the pandemic. One of his major failings is his willingness to trust the people around him, even when they don’t deserve it.

Brendan O’Neill talks with Zoe Strimpel about “the dangerous rise of safetyism.”

Joel Zinberg warns of an obscure provision in the omnibus spending bill that could give the FDA power to ban off-label uses of approved therapies. A slice:

Secreted within the 2023 omnibus appropriations bill—4,155 pages, spending $1.7 trillion—is a 19-line section that could change the way medicine is practiced.

Physicians routinely prescribe drugs and employ medical devices that are approved and labeled by the Food and Drug Administration for a particular use. Yet sometimes physicians discern other beneficial uses for these technologies, which they prescribe for their patients without specific official sanction. The new legislation amends the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, or FDCA, to give the FDA the authority to ban some of these off-label uses of otherwise approved products. This unwarranted intrusion into the physician-patient relationship threatens to undermine medical innovation and patient care.

John Hagel remembers the late, great Walter Grinder.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Marian Tupy decries the obsequious attention given by the media to that peddler of “doom porn” Paul Ehrlich. A slice:

Paul Ehrlich’s memoir, “Life: A Journey through Science and Politics,” comes out next week. It probably won’t sell as many copies as “The Population Bomb” (1968). But neither will it flop—and it should. Mr. Ehrlich, 90, whom the media treat with an obsequious deference—see the recent cringe-worthy segment on CBS’s “60 Minutes”—will again profit from the capitalist consumption he’s spent his life decrying.

Mr. Ehrlich is a purveyor of “doom porn” at a time when the world has never been more prosperous. Developed countries are astonishingly rich, and even in developing nations the share of the population in absolute poverty has fallen to single digits. Mr. Ehrlich in 1968 predicted mass starvation; instead obesity is rising, even in Africa. So why don’t people ignore him? Ignorance is no excuse when we carry the entirety of human knowledge in our pockets.

The answer is that humans have evolved to prioritize bad news. “Organisms that treat threats as more urgent than opportunities,” wrote Nobel Prize-winning behavioral psychologist Daniel Kahneman, “have a better chance to survive and reproduce.”

As Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler explain in “Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think,” our brains have limited bandwidth and need to focus when a threat arises. Most information is first sifted through the amygdala, a part of the brain that is “responsible for primal emotions like rage, hate, and fear,” Messrs. Diamandis and Kotler write. “The amygdala is always looking for something to fear.”

That is a very powerful impulse that can deceive even the most dispassionate and rational observers.