URLs du Jour

2022-02-09

  • Hey, you know that face mask study?

    It had a neat graph! Easy to understand:

    [Bogus CDC Graph]

    But Jacob Sullum says That Study of Face Masks Does Not Show What the CDC Claims. And I'd guess he's right.

    A new study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) supposedly shows that wearing a face mask in public places dramatically reduces your risk of catching COVID-19. The CDC summed up the results in a widely shared graphic that says wearing a cloth mask "lowered the odds of testing positive" by 56 percent, while the risk reduction was 66 percent for surgical masks and 83 percent for N95 or KN95 respirators.

    If you read the tiny footnotes, you will see that the result for cloth masks was not statistically significant. So even on its face, this study, which was published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on Friday, did not validate the protective effect of the most commonly used face coverings—a striking fact that the authors do not mention until the end of the sixth paragraph. And once you delve into the details of the study, it becomes clear that the results for surgical masks and N95s, while statistically significant, do not actually demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship, contrary to the way the CDC is framing them.

    You know, I occasionally try to do my bit to debunk wild claims about Covid and vaccines. It's really tough to use any CDC-based evidence when doing so, though, because of things like this. Jacob's bottom line: The CDC "has proven that it cannot be trusted to act as an honest broker of scientific information." Harsh but fair.


  • What's that smell? Ah, there it is. Jonah Goldberg opines that The RNC Really Stepped In It by Censuring Cheney and Kinzinger.

    But where the RNC leaders really stepped in it—again, figuratively—is that they wrote the censure resolution so stupidly, people stopped talking about Cheney and Kinzinger and started talking about how the Republican National Committee officially described the January 6 riot as “legitimate political discourse.”

    RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel insists that the resolution wasn’t meant to describe the violent attack on the Capitol and Capitol Police as “legitimate political discourse,” even though there’s nothing in the resolution’s text to support her claim. But let’s give her the benefit of the doubt for a moment and chalk up the poor phrasing to McDaniel’s trademark incompetence instead of her patented Trump sycophancy (this is the woman who, after all, dropped the name Romney to placate the former president).

    Which brings me back to my question. Does McDaniel think tracking and smearing human feces around the halls of Congress qualifies as “legitimate political discourse”? I mean, that wasn’t technically violent activity. Were the Capitol custodians tasked with cleaning up the foulness actually engaged in the rich conversation of American democracy? If someone did that at RNC headquarters, would McDaniel say, “Good for you, exercising your First Amendment right to engage in legitimate political discourse”?

    More on this tomorrow, I fear.


  • Does anyone do an actual litmus test any more? I mean, I did, but I'm way old. I only hear about them metaphorically these days. For example, Stanley Kurtz: How to End Political Litmus Tests in Education

    A new and pernicious tool for enforcing ideological conformity is sweeping across America’s colleges and universities. Recent developments show it threatening K–12 as well. I’m talking about “diversity statements,” mandatory affirmations of woke ideology by K–12 teachers and professors seeking employment, promotion, or tenure. Diversity statements amount to political litmus tests: “Prove your fealty to woke ideology, or surrender your hopes of advancement.” These vows of ideological conformity are an affront to liberty of conscience and academic freedom. Not yet widely known to the general public, educator diversity statements are quietly snuffing out the final flickers of dissenting intellectual life in our education system.

    Nevertheless, diversity statements can be stopped. The wave of resistance to woke ideology coursing across the states can turn this troubling trend around. Here’s how. Together, Arizona’s Goldwater Institute, North Carolina’s James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, and I have just issued model state-level legislation designed to bar the use of diversity statements — and all other political and ideological tests — at public K–12 schools and universities. The model is entitled the “End Political Litmus Tests in Education Act,” and you can find a link to the text here.

    Looks like another good way to get the progressives at the University Near Here to freak out.


  • That's what they want you to think. Damon Linker has news: Life is not a simulation.

    There is no Big Idea for which I feel greater contempt than the suggestion that we're all living in a simulation. The runner up is the claim that we should seek fun and fulfillment in a technologically simulated reality — the so-called metaverse or virtual reality.

    Now, don't get me wrong: I loved the original Matrix movie as much as anyone who smoked too much pot in college and spent too many evenings embroiled in rollicking dorm-room philosophical bull sessions. Dude, what if we're really just brains floating in vats and all of this is just an illusion controlled by scientists in a lab somewhere ...

    Such musing is fun precisely because it's irrefutable, changing nothing about our experience of the world other than positing that it's somehow less real than it seems. Or rather, it takes off from a vague feeling of unreality that occasionally haunts us as we go about our days, then intimates that this somewhat queasy sensation is a gateway to the underlying truth of everything: It's all a lie, a cosmic game of charades. Nothing is what it seems. We're all just playing parts in a script written and dictated by some hidden, higher power. The world, our lives, everything we care about only seems to be real and to matter. In reality, it's all a hoax, a ruse, a ... simulation.

    But it isn't.

    Click though for Linker's argument. If you need convincing.