A Little Learning

is a dangerous thing. Drink deep or taste not of the Pierian spring. – Alexander Pope

A WuFlu rant follows. Sorry, I needed to grouse. Come back tomorrow for non-current-events and lighter topics.

The line is part of Alexander Pope’s very long poetic essay An Essay on Criticism. It is not an easy work to read, and most of us no longer connect the Pierian Spring with the inspiration of the Nine Muses. Which fits my muddled meanderings on the modern media’s practitioners, a little learning, and the near-hysterical narrative shaping society in the US at the moment.

Pope was talking about literature, but the point remains valid for a lot of other disciplines. You know things, you think you know other things, and you have ideas that you assume are correct knowledge. Or as many people have said, “It ain’t what you know that’s the problem. The problem is what you know that ain’t so.” A lot of the media seem to suffer from two and three in combination. They assume that because they report on X, they know X. Combine that with ideology and other assumptions, and oh lordy, here we go again.

Since January, those of us afflicted with occasionally encountering TV news have observed that reporters and news-writers cannot do statistics, know nothing about biology, are very good at ignoring background, have no understanding of the philosophy and mechanics of the Constitution and federalism, and have no qualms about flaunting this ignorance in ways that cause a narrative of panic and hysteria to erupt around them. And they consider this “speaking truth to power.”

Some of the long-time reporters, who are actually still reporters, do know a little about certain areas. Even they have gotten stampeded on occasion, although three of them do seem to have settled down and gotten back on track. They tend to be careful to listen, and to admit when they don’t understand or are past their experience limits. Would that we had more of them.

What I’ve found educational to observe is how the TV media, and their internet and print counterparts, have tried to steer American (and global) society. Their base position is that anything that does not agree with their political worldview is at best in ignorant error and (more likely in their minds) willfully mean if not evil. If President Trump says “This might be good,” then the media assume that it will be a disaster, or that he has a financial stake in [thing]. If the thing (tax cuts, easing or removing counterproductive regulations, medical treatments) does work, then it gets ignored or the press and their philosophical fellow-travelers pounce on what they assume to be flaws and errors, and highlight the one person or business that doesn’t benefit.

For example – the lede on Tuesday and Wednesday was about supermarket workers dying of the Flu Manchu. The anguish! The woe! The four people out of over two million who work in the grocery stores— Screech. What? Yes, the number I heard was four, one of whose mother tearfully explained that her child had gone in to work until her lungs were so congested that she couldn’t breathe.* I feel sorry for the families and friends of those who fell ill and died, but to use four out of millions in order to argue for a $15/hr minimum wage is wrong.

The media and a lot of supposedly smart people don’t know what they don’t know, and they don’t want to know. They don’t know how to look for “cooked” numbers, like strange causes-of-death rates. They don’t know why the perfect is the enemy of the good. They don’t want to believe that “No, you won’t get it right this time,” because central planning and government control of the economy and medical system can’t work.

They’ve drank just enough from the Muses’ spring to sound as if they know. And that’s probably the worst thing. Our local EMS chief was on TV the other day assuring people that if they think they are having a stroke, or heat-attack, or other medical problem, please, please call for help. They won’t die of the Flu Manchu if they have to go to the hospital with a heart attack, EMS won’t refuse to treat them because they are waiting for Wuhan Flu calls. *facepaw*

I’m also amused how—according to the US media—the plasma/antibody transfusion treatment is “a game changer” (HuffPo and AP headline) but the hydroxychloroquin/Z-pak treatment is unproven and probably useless. Oh, and if the models don’t match reality, it is because reality has yet to catch up. Seriously. I had a friend say that his city is keeping lock-down because they will have a major outbreak of the Wu Flu “any day now” because that’s what the U of Washington model predicts.

A little knowledge . . . *Sigh*

*I bet her coworkers were thrilled to hear that. And what was her manager thinking, not sending her home, if indeed she was that sick?


28 thoughts on “A Little Learning

  1. I am very happy that the outbreaks are nowhere near as frequent and large as the experts predicted. (And beating their”best case” scenarios by significant margins.)
    I’m not so happy to be living at a major transportation hub, where the local numbers are still too close to projections for comfort.

    I’ve run a feedlot, so I’m *much* more on the preventative quarantine side than most.
    But “The End Of The World As We Know It!!!” is even more annoying and ignorant than “it’s only the flu”.
    If you want people to take warnings seriously, take the giving of warnings seriously.

    • Yes. And balance coverage around the country, rather than taking New York City as “this is how it’s going to be everywhere!” 1. Not every state has a governor who comes across as a male hysteric. 2. Not every state has the corruption of NYC. 3. Most people don’t live in such compact conditions as NYC.

      But other than that, yes, absolutely, NYC is exactly the same as the rest of the country. *rolls eyes*

      Encouraging those most at risk to shelter is always a good idea. Arresting and then fining people for being out on their own on a paddleboard in the Pacific miles away from other people? Not so good.

  2. Continuing yesterday’s theme, we are faced with too many small-souled yipping dogs, and not enough big dogs who take watch and protect seriously.

    Good insight and reference today. There’s another poetic work I want to re-read.

  3. It may be over-used but the following still fits.

    “There’s No Intelligent Life Here”. 😦

  4. Yep, numbers don’t add up, media has decided to die on that hydroxychloroquin/Z-pak hill, which I find interesting… Also, Stanford just came out with a study going back to Nov/Dec in Cali for blood draws and lo and behold, Flu Manchu has been there since December… What I find interesting is the ‘researchers’ that say the hydroxychloroquin/Z-pak treatment isn’t safe because (insert reason here/not enough data), but hydroxychloroquin has been around over 50 years and the contraindicateds are pretty well known by now.

    • Now it’s the hydroxychloroquine and metformin scare, based on a mouse study that appears to have administered each drug at around the LD50* toxicity level. This is going on where people should actually should note the deficiencies in he study. Orange Man Derangement syndrome, one suspects.

      (*) IIRC, that’s the level where 50% of the subjects die from the substance.

      • Now there’s some marvelous science. Feed LD50 to the mousies of 2 DIFFERENT drugs. Even assuming NO interaction the mouse survival rate is that of surviving drug A ( .5) times that of surviving drug B (.5) or .5*.5 which is .25. In other words that trial will kill 75% of the mice on average even with no interaction. It really has to suck to be a white lab mouse.

        • You can prove ANYTHING is highly dangerous by testing at, not for, its LD50.

          That’s why we can’t have perfectly reasonable Red Dye #2 or cyclamates.

            • Worse, hydronium hydroxide, its common dimer. It’ll dissolve most anything, and kill you in minutes!

          • Red Dye 2 was not a horrible loss (but for the red M&Ms) but Cyclamates. A far superior 0 calorie sweetener. I remember Waist watcher soda that my mome would buy for her own consumption (big lady, verge diabetic) and the taste was quite tolerable unlike saccherine based stuff. And yes this was a LONG time ago to open those cans you needed a church key (can opener) probably over 50 years ago.

      • The state lab in WA that told the CDC to go jump in a lake has gone back through pathology samples in WA and has positives from late December.

        • Stanford went back and found CV+ results in December, too. I’ll borrow Sarah’s shocked face for that nugget.


    Of course, “what I want” and “what the Glorious Author can do” are two very very different things. 😆

    • Can you wait until Monday? I have the edits for Greatly Familiar in hand. I need to write a few thousand more words on Horribly Familiar before I run the edits, then I’ll upload them on Monday.

      • But course I can wait.

        I could wait until next month (even if I didn’t like to do so). 😉

        Seriously, I was “attempting” a bit of gallows humor.

        • Sorry. I missed catching the joke.

          No worries. I’ve been having to move around the house as I work today, because of work in the house, and my mind’s a little frazzled.

  6. One musicologist called Bach a “sublime sewing machine” because of the rate at which he turned out great music. Our Favorite Author seems to be making a run at that title.

  7. Pingback: Chicago Boyz » Blog Archive » Proactive to Punishment

  8. Reblogged this on Blithe Spirit and commented:
    ‘The media and a lot of supposedly smart people don’t know what they don’t know, and they don’t want to know. They don’t know how to look for “cooked” numbers, like strange causes-of-death rates. They don’t know why the perfect is the enemy of the good. They don’t want to believe that “No, you won’t get it right this time,” because central planning and government control of the economy and medical system can’t work’.

Comments are closed.