Science: requiring SAT scores both decreases and increases diversity at a university

From the haters at Fox News… “Top DEI staff at public universities pocket massive salaries as experts question motives of initiatives”:

A review of salary data shows that the universities of Michigan, Maryland, Virginia and Illinois, plus Virginia Tech, boast some of the highest-paid DEI staffers at public universities, a Fox News review found. These institutions’ top diversity employees earn salaries ranging from $329,000 to $430,000 – vastly eclipsing the average pay for the schools’ full-time tenured professors.

Fox implicitly considers Comparative Victimhood to be simpler than Quantum Electrodynamics and, therefore, it is not reasonable for a diversity bureaucrat to get paid 5X what a young Physics professor earns (see AIP salary calculator).

But what if Fox is wrong(!). From state-sponsored NPR in 2018… “Study: Colleges That Ditch The SAT And ACT Can Enhance Diversity”:

Colleges that have gone “test optional” enroll — and graduate — a higher proportion of low-income and first generation-students, and more students from diverse backgrounds, the researchers found in the study

In short, Science proves that dispensing with the SAT leads to more diversity.

What if we head over to a school where you can’t spit in the hallways without hitting a Scientist? “We are reinstating our SAT/ACT requirement for future admissions cycles in order to help us continue to build a diverse and talented MIT” (2022):

Within our office, we have a dedicated research and analysis team that continuously studies our processes, outcomes, and criteria …. not having SATs/ACT scores to consider tends to raise socioeconomic barriers to demonstrating readiness for our education,⁠ relative to having them, given these other inequalities

There are some helpful hashtags, including #diversity:

When we combine NPR and MIT we find that Science proves that requiring the SAT reduces diversity and also that requiring the SAT increases diversity. It is therefore not unreasonable for someone tasked with applying this Science to earn $430,000 per year at a taxpayer-funded state university.

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The Science of abortion

“What Quantum Mechanics Can Teach Us about Abortion” (Scientific American):

As light can exist as both a particle and a wave, an abortion provider can honor birth and fight for a person’s right to give birth when it’s right for them

Quantum mechanics, a discipline within physics, has demonstrated that both are true. Sometimes light acts like a particle, sometimes a wave. This duality explains all the characteristics of light that have been observed experimentally, and has allowed scientists to explore the cosmos in previously unimaginable ways. That these two seemingly irreconcilable beliefs could come together gives me hope that similar harmony could be achieved in the discussion of other deeply polarizing topics, including abortion.

Instead of either/or, imagine both/and. We recognize the value placed on a desired and loved pregnancy by families and understand that ending a pregnancy is the right decision for some people some of the time. Individuals may have ethical objections to abortion and recognize that anti-choice laws can harm people. We can value human life and recognize the complexities of reproductive decision making. Attending thousands of births has been a great joy in my career and has cemented my belief that forcing a person to give birth against their will is a fundamental violation of their human rights.

Generally, the article takes the scientifically correct position that those who identify as “men” are just as likely to get pregnant and give birth as those who identify as “women”. But then the author and editors for some reason slip into distinctly unscientific (and hateful) language:

Given that one quarter of women in the U.S. have an abortion, many Americans have benefitted directly or indirectly from abortion care. I implore readers to emulate previous generations of scientists who changed our understanding of the universe by their willingness to consider seemingly opposite empirical truths: Particle and wave, abortion providers and ethical physicians, pro-life and pro-choice.

Scientific American says that correct political and moral decision regarding abortion (legal right through 37 or 39 weeks in Maskachusetts so long as one doctor thinks it will help the birthing person) can be established scientifically, in other words, and therefore anyone who has a different opinion is factually and scientifically incorrect.

Is this idea new? A Duke econ professor‘s 2007 introduction to Nobel-winner F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom:

The British were not Continental socialists, but still, the danger signs were there. Clearly, the nearly universal sentiment among the intelligentsia in the 1930s that a planned system represented “the middle way” between a failed capitalism and totalitarianisms of the left and right was worrisome. The writings of what Hayek called the “men (and women!) of science” could not be ignored. Look at this message from the weekly magazine Nature, taken from an editorial that carried the title “Science and the National War Effort”:

“The contribution of science to the war effort should be a major one, for which the Scientific Advisory Committee may well be largely responsible. Moreover, the work must not cease with the end of the war. It does not follow that an organization which is satisfactory under the stress of modern warfare will serve equally well in time of peace; but the principle of the immediate concern of science in formulating policy and in other ways exerting a direct and sufficient influence on the course of government is one to which we must hold fast. Science must seize the opportunity to show that it can lead mankind onward to a better form of society.”

The very next week readers of Nature would find similar sentiments echoed in Barbara Wootton’s review of a book on Marxism: “The whole approach to social and political questions is still pre-scientific. Until we have renounced tribal magic in favour of the detached and relentless accuracy characteristic of science the unconquered social environment will continue to make useless and dangerous our astonishing conquest of the material environment.” Progressive opinion was united behind the idea that science was to be enlisted to reconstruct society along more rational lines.

From the same 2007 intro, potentially of interest now that we’re in Year 3 of a “National Emergency” (see “Notice on the Continuation of the National Emergency Concerning the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-⁠19) Pandemic” (, February 18, 2022))

Another theme, evident perhaps more explicitly in this introduction than in specific passages in Hayek’s own text, but nonetheless very much a part of his underlying motivation in writing the book, is Hayek’s warning concerning the dangers that times of war pose for established civil societies—for it is during such times when hard-won civil liberties are most likely to be all-too-easily given up. Even more troubling, politicians instinctively recognize the seductive power of war. Times of national emergency permit the invocation of a common cause and a common purpose. War enables leaders to ask for sacrifices. It presents an enemy against which all segments of society may unite. This is true of real war, but because of its ability to unify disparate groups, savvy politicians from all parties find it effective to invoke war metaphors in a host of contexts. The war on drugs, the war on poverty, and the war on terror are but three examples from recent times. What makes these examples even more worrisome than true wars is that none has a logical endpoint; each may be invoked forever. Hayek’s message was to be wary of such martial invocations. His specific fear was that, for a war to be fought effectively, the power and size of the state must grow. No matter what rhetoric they employ, politicians and the bureaucracies over which they preside love power, and power is never easily surrendered once the danger, if there ever was one, has passed. Though eternal vigilance is sage advice, surely “wartime” (or when politicians would try to convince us that it is such a time) is when those who value the preservation of individual liberty must be most on guard.


  • “Governor Newsom Signs Legislation to Eliminate Out-of-Pocket Costs for Abortion Services” (, 3/22/2022): “In the face of nationwide attacks on reproductive rights, California has taken action to improve access to reproductive care by removing financial barriers to this essential health care,” said First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom. “In the Golden State, we value women and recognize all they shoulder in their dual roles as caregivers and breadwinners. California will continue to lead by example and ensure all women and pregnant people have autonomy over their bodies and the ability to control their own destinies.” SB 245 prohibits health plans and insurers from imposing a co-pay, deductible, or other cost-sharing requirement for abortion and abortion-related services. The legislation also prohibits health plans and insurers from imposing utilization management practices on covered abortion and abortion-related services. California is one of six states that require health insurance plans to cover abortion services, but out-of-pocket costs for patients can exceed a thousand dollars.
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Scientists gather to spread mutant SARS-CoV-2

A friend is heading off to Europe right now for a big academic conference. He’s a(n actual) scientist who lives in a Democrat-governed city and has supported mask orders, vaccine paper checks, school closures, and other Science-based interventions to stop the spread of the respiratory virus that causes COVID-19. Let’s call him “Professor Karen”.

Professor Karen’s family agrees with him regarding the merits of Following the Science. Down visiting an older relative, they came to pick me up at a southwest Florida FBO. The ramp looked like the usual “someone robbed a Gulfstream store” and there were about 60 people in the cavernous building. A sign near the front door reminded everyone that President Biden had ordered everyone at the airport to wear masks. Out of 60ish people there, Professor K’s family members were the only ones in masks.

(I can’t claim a total lack of COVID-19 concern. Afraid of the potential to infect my friend’s older relatives, I took the initiative to burn one of my at-home tests before starting up the plane for the 45-minute trip west.)

I was surprised, therefore, to learn that the good professor was heading off to Europe for a conference pulling together more than 1,000 people in his field from all of the SARS-CoV-2-infested countries of the world. In other words, a perfect environment for mutants to spread and/or form.

If he believed in the Science enough that he didn’t complain when his children’s public schools were closed for 1.5 years, why would he be a willing party to this potentially humanity-destroying event? His explanation was the virtual conferences weren’t effective, especially for poster sessions. But when it is a question of saving lives, so what? Professor Karen has tenure. He doesn’t need a conference publication to ensure a continued paycheck. People can work on better virtual conference technology. For a fraction of the cost of plane tickets to Europe, for example, everyone who was going to attend that conference could be supplied with virtual reality goggles for wandering around a poster session.

If Science tells us that people shouldn’t gather, why are scientists gathering unnecessarily?


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Climate Science meets Coronascience

A paywalled article from the UK Independent is available at MSN: “Tube ‘low risk’ for catching Covid, study finds”. The authors followed people who rode London’s mass transit system and compared them to those who didn’t, testing the study and control groups periodically for COVID-19? Not exactly.

The joint study by Leeds University, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and Manchester University found that the risk of commuters contracting the virus on underground train carriages – previously feared to be a “super spreader” environment – was “likely to be quite low”.

A team of science and engineering researchers built a computer-generated simulator based on a Tube-like carriage to demonstrate how the virus might spread from passenger to passenger.

The Transmission of Virus in Carriages model (TVC) simulated the risk of catching the virus from airborne particles, when standing two metres from other passengers, and after touching contaminated surfaces.

Using the tool to track the journey of the virus, researchers found that there was a “small chance of transmission” from ”touching a contaminated surface” and that this could be mitigated by frequent handwashing and passengers avoiding touching their face – validating the government’s “hands, face, space” messaging from 2020.

The government-funded and government-employed researchers validated the government’s action…


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How is the James Webb Space Telescope doing?

Who has been following the James Webb Space Telescope? It will take a while to travel nearly 1 million miles to get to its working position, but is everything still working as planned? $10 billion sounds like a lot of money, but considering that the federal government spent at least $10 trillion on less than 2 years of coronapanic, the James Webb money wouldn’t have funded coronapanic for even a single day.

It looks like the launch prep was similar to how my friends in Maskachusetts set up their living rooms prior to receiving grocery deliveries, March 2020 through present:

The original plan for unfolding (completed on January 8):

There is no visible light camera on the fancy machine, right? What do readers predict about the American public’s interest level in infrared-derived images? My prediction: it will be reasonably high for a year or so, as long as the pseudo-color images are of exoplanets.

I wonder if the name of the telescope tells us something about American culture. James Webb had no scientific training. From Wikipedia:

He completed his college education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he received an Bachelor of Arts in Education in 1928. He was a member of the Acacia fraternity. Webb became a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, and he served as a Marine Corps pilot on active duty from 1930 to 1932. Webb then studied law at The George Washington University Law School, where he received a J.D. degree in 1936. In the same year, he was admitted to the Bar of the District of Columbia.

He was a high-level government official, however:

After World War II, Webb returned to Washington, DC and served as executive assistant to Gardner, now the Undersecretary of the Treasury, for a short while before he was named as the director of the Bureau of the Budget in the Office of the President of the United States, a position that he held until 1949. Webb was recommended for the appointment to Truman by Gardner and Treasury Secretary John Snyder. … Truman’s objective for the budget was to bring it to balance after the large expenditures of World War II

President Harry S. Truman next nominated Webb to serve as an undersecretary of state in the U.S. Department of State, which he began in January 1949.

On February 14, 1961, Webb accepted President John F. Kennedy’s appointment as Administrator of NASA,

(Note shocking anachronistic content highlighted in bold!)

The previous big telescope, launched in 1990, was named after Edwin Hubble, a Ph.D. astronomer who figured out that there were other galaxies and that they were moving away from us.

So… when nobody said “I follow the science”, our expensive telescope was named after a scientist. Now that half the country says “I follow the science,” our expensive telescope is named after a politician/bureaucrat.

(We may see a loosely analogous progression in New York governors. Elliot Spitzer paid young women to have sex with him; Andrew Cuomo simply took the bodies of young women without paying.)

As someone who lives in completely flat state that Verizon is nonetheless unable to cover with a mobile data network, I’m curious to see if the design goal of 28 Mbps communication can be achieved.

I think it would be interesting if there were some cameras on the sunshield that could send back visible light images of the telescope itself (but maybe it will be far too dark for that? The telescope will be illuminated only by starlight if the shield works, right?). Or a camera with a sun filter on the back of the sunshield to give us a constant image of the Sun with the Earth and Moon in the foreground? I haven’t worked out the geometry to determine how big the Earth and Moon would be relative to the Sun from that perspective, but maybe it would be hopeless due to the small relative size of the Earth and Moon combined with the brightness of the Sun.

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Icebound: a book about the original polar explorer

If you were a school boy/girl/other in the Netherlands you would have learned about Willem Barentsz, who made three voyages to the Russian Arctic while Shakespeare was scribbling out The Comedy of Errors, Romeo and Juliet and the Merchant of Venice (1594-1597). If you weren’t, there’s a great new book: Icebound: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World, by Andrea Pitzer.

What was known?

The Greeks later determined that the farthest places from the equator where the sun is directly overhead at some point during the year sit at predictable distances north and south of the equator. As a result, along with the equator circling the Earth, they had added one line above and one below, both parallel to it. The northernmost extreme of the sun’s travels was christened the Tropic of Cancer, and the southernmost band the Tropic of Capricorn. And the ancients realized that because of the changes in the sun’s position, there should be another line of latitude closer to each pole, beyond which it would be possible to see the sun at midnight during the summer, and for sunlight to vanish entirely during part of the winter. The Greeks named the Arctic Circle for the polar constellation that should always be visible inside it—Ursa Minor, or Little Bear. The “Arctic” in Arctic Circle comes from arktikos kyklos, or “circle of the bear”—not creatures on the ground but the stars in the sky.

What was conjectured? That there would be an open warm-ish sea once you pushed through the initial ring of icebergs. Thus, it made sense to consider going over the top of Russia to trade with China, the world’s manufacturing superpower in the 16th century.

It is unclear how this idea persisted given that this area was moderately active with humans during the summer months, mostly Russians and Sami people engaged in fishing. Kildin Island was a meeting point and trading post and roughly the limit of non-Russian knowledge.

Any time that it is warm enough for a human to be outside trying to do anything, the polar bears are in the region and hungry. One thing that the Dutch guys never do on any of the three expeditions is run out of ammo:

Slaughter emerged as the instinctive Dutch response to the Arctic landscape, a new theater that would see the same performance again and again with every European wave of arrivals. As historical archaeologist P. J. Capelotti observed about the killing of animals in the high Arctic that accompanied modern exploration, “It’s amazing there’s anything left alive.”

I wonder if polar bears have evolved during the intervening centuries to be wary of humans. Modern tourists on pre-coronapanic visits to the Arctic don’t have nearly the same number of interactions with bear. But perhaps it is just because the polar bear population has been so severely reduced. I couldn’t find any estimate for polar bear population in the 16th century. Even today, people are just guessing at what the numbers might be (unlike coronascientists, though, the wildlife biologists admit that they’re guessing!).

Fighting with the ice pack and the bears at the same time near Nova Zembla, which they’d hoped would be the gateway to the open route to China:

The animal rose up and came for them. They had to abandon the work of turning the ship in order to fight the bear. But before they could kill it, they had to chase it into the water and onto the ice then back onto land again to catch it. After dispatching it, they returned to saving the ship. Whenever things looked bad, there was always something worse waiting to happen.

That last sentence describes the attitude of most of my Facebook friends regarding COVID-19!

Popping vitamin pills in hopes of warding off coronaplague? Maybe think twice…

They hadn’t enjoyed eating the meat from the first bear they’d killed on the voyage, almost a year before. But dwindling rations and the passage of time combined to make them look more keenly at this bear and reconsider. After gutting the animal, they dressed and cooked its liver, which had a much better flavor than the meat they’d eaten before. They were pleased with their meal, but the bear had its revenge when the men started to feel ill. Everyone fell sick, and the cause was clear. Barents and his men had poisoned themselves. Polar bear liver contains enough vitamin A to be lethal to humans. Though the crew had no more idea of the effects of too much vitamin A than they did the lack of vitamin C that caused their scurvy, both wreaked havoc on the castaways’ bodies just the same. Symptoms include drowsiness, headaches, liver damage, altered consciousness, and vomiting. The next morning, van Heemskerck picked up the pot of liver still sitting on the fire and threw its contents out in the snow. Three men soon lay near death. … By June 4—four days after they’d eaten the polar bear liver—most of the crew had recovered, but the skin of the three men who had fallen most violently ill peeled off in layers from head to toe.

I don’t want to spoil the story. Suffice it to say that an unplanned overwintering in the high Arctic will test a group’s resourcefulness. Scurvy turned out to be an even worse enemy than the climate.

Should we hoist a Stroopwafel in Barents’s memory?

Even during his life, Barents had lived a larger life than most humans. He’d been the first to publish an atlas of the Mediterranean, a survivor of nearly ten months in some of the most extreme conditions on the planet, a three-time explorer into the unknown, mapping places no European—and in some cases, perhaps no human—had ever seen. In Barents’s day, the Russians called the sea between Scandinavia and Nova Zembla the sea of Murmans, referring to the Norwegians they encountered there. But in 1853, Barents’s name would come to replace the earlier one, and the waters he sailed three times on his way east would come to be known worldwide as the Barents Sea. Four hundred years later its treacherous conditions would lead some to call it the devil’s dance floor.1

Along with making Zembla legendary, Barents and his men would themselves become famous. By 1600, less than four years after their frozen Twelfth Night feast on Nova Zembla, William Shakespeare would write his own play about the same holiday. Twelfth Night likewise tells the story of a world turned upside down on this strangest of holidays, in which the high are brought low and everything spins topsy-turvy. A not-quite-dead dead twin, cross-dressing, and a plot nested around switched identities lead to a comedy of errors with its own holiday feast at the center—and a reference to Barents. When one character earns another’s disdain, he’s told, “[Y]ou are now sailed into the north of my lady’s opinion; where you will hang like an icicle on a Dutchman’s beard.” In the space of a handful of years, the tale of Dutchmen covered in ice at the northern edge of the world would cross borders to become an international cultural touchstone.

William Barents would become less and less real over time. The gaps left by his biography, and his death, create an emptiness that makes it possible to project or reflect whatever the viewer wants to see. Yet every famous Arctic explorer who endured horrifying ordeals, every adventurer to the North whose story became a bestselling book, every voyager vowing to fill in the map for national glory, every polar adventurer whose exploits were recorded with the newest technologies—from books to telegrams to photos to radio broadcasts to phones to satellite links—has walked in the path first blazed by William Barents. In later centuries, the failure to establish habitable colonies or make successful trade missions wouldn’t count against intrepid explorers. From a monetary perspective in Barents’s era, however, his final voyage was a disaster, so much so that when his wife applied for a widow’s pension from the council of Holland, asking for support for herself and the five children her husband had left behind, she was refused.

A less-known hero from the voyage is the captain, Jacob van Heemskerck (Barents was the navigator).

Van Heemskerck later sailed to [the East Indies] as commander of the fleet and helped shepherd the new Dutch nation as it supernovaed into a vast empire. In less than a century, the goods shipped by Dutch traders would eclipse the combined total of Spain, France, England, and Portugal, with several other European powers thrown in for good measure. Just as he’d outlasted his time in the Arctic, van Heemskerck would survive his southern voyages and return home to take part in the war against Spain that would continue, at greater or lesser intensity, for another four decades. As admiral, he’d lead the Dutch navies against the Spanish fleet near Gibraltar in 1607, dying in battle after losing a leg to a cannonball.

The author closes with a testable hypothesis:

Yet, strangely enough, he was perfectly correct in his assumption. The world to which he belonged set machinery in motion that can now be slowed but not reversed. With some consistency, snow and ice surveys project that by 2040—perhaps as early as 2030—there will be no ice left at the North Pole in summer. By August 2017, the planet had changed so much that a Russian gas tanker equipped for Arctic voyages could travel for the first time without an icebreaker escort, sailing a northern route from Norway to South Korea in two-thirds the time required for the traditional route through the Suez Canal. The open polar sea Barents had forecast will soon exist every year during the hottest months. And the planet will continue to warm. This stupendous change will be the end result of a process in which Barents and his Arctic expeditions were in some ways the opening salvo. Though they returned with a dramatic tale of uninhabited lands and scientific insights, their ships still rode the wave of a tide that would unleash destruction as powerful and enduring as any force in human history. The sea free of polar ice that the Greeks had deliberated over and Barents’s own mentor had insisted was real wasn’t just a figment of their imaginations. The open polar sea that Barents had imagined, the idea for which he’d risked everything, has finally come to pass. He just sailed four hundred years too soon.

Let’s see if the scientific consensus turns out to be correct! I hope that we haven’t all been killed by variant COVID-19 by 2040 and can see if the experts were right. If the CDC lifts its no-sail order, perhaps we can have a comfortable Royal Caribbean cruise from Miami to the North Pole and back by way of Halifax (so as to qualify as an international trip).

Meanwhile… I suggest reading Icebound: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World.

From my own trip to the Arctic, made more tolerable by the presence of a French chef…


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Coronascientists are the modern Aristotles?

Since the 17th century (see Francis Bacon), people who call themselves “scientists” have been using the scientific method:

  1. Make an observation.
  2. Ask a question.
  3. Form a hypothesis, or testable explanation.
  4. Make a prediction based on the hypothesis.
  5. Test the prediction.
  6. Iterate: use the results to make new hypotheses or predictions.

As previously documented here in this weblog, the “scientists” on whose advice politicians have ordered lockdowns, masks, etc. have consistently failed at Step 4 (making predictions). This failure, though, has been mostly invisible to the public due to the lack of media interest in going back a few weeks or months and comparing prediction to reality. In the rare cases when a false prediction, e.g., that the Czech Republic would have a low death rate due to masks and shutdown (in fact, the country ended up at #1 in the Covid death rate Olympics), is revisited it will be a “scientist” explaining how someone did something during the intervening period and that this action (or inaction) explains the current situation.

Is it Science when you can’t make accurate predictions, but you can tell a convincing tale? Yes! We just have to go back to 350 B.C. and Aristotelian physics. A lifted rock falls toward the earth because it is seeking its natural level. Air bubbles rise because the air seeks its natural place around the earth.

For concreteness (and remember that concrete seeks its natural level underneath highways!), let’s look at the official newspaper of those who #FollowScience. In “‘Life Has to Go On’: How Sweden Has Faced the Virus Without a Lockdown” (New York Times, April 28, 2020), the obvious comparison countries to Sweden were Ireland, Britain, and France. Once additional data are received, and it turns out Britain and France have higher COVID-19-tagged death rates than Sweden while Finland, Norway, and Denmark are outliers, the same scientifically minded folks will assert that Finland, Norway, and Denmark are the only sensible countries to which to compare Sweden and that it would be absurd to use France or Britain as a comparison. We did the same thing domestically. In March 2020, the experts predicted that locked-down Massachusetts would end up with a far lower death rate than Florida (and we should have, since only 14 percent of our population is over 65, compared to 20 percent in Florida). Now that data are available and Florida has suffered only 62 percent of the MA death rate, it is plain to scientists that comparing MA to FL would be nonsensical.

(The article has a funny-in-retrospect section:

From the first signs of the pandemic, the Swedish Public Health Authority decided that a lockdown would be pointless. “Once you get into a lockdown, it’s difficult to get out of it,” the country’s state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, said. “How do you reopen? When?”

California teachers’ union answer: never! To the Swedes who say “Life Has to Go On,” the majority of Americans say, resoundingly, “No, it does not!”)

A more recent example… “Iowa Is What Happens When Government Does Nothing” (December 3, 2020, Atlantic, owned by someone who got rich by marrying Steve Jobs and now advocates for unlimited migration into parts of the U.S. other than her own Palo Alto neighborhood):

The story of the coronavirus in the state is one of government inaction in the name of freedom and personal responsibility.

“In a lot of ways, Iowa is serving as the control group of what not to do,” Eli Perencevich, an infectious-disease doctor at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, told me. Although cases dropped in late November—a possible result of a warm spell in Iowa—Perencevich and other public-health experts predict that the state’s lax political leadership will result in a “super peak” over the holidays, and thousands of preventable deaths in the weeks to come. “We know the storm’s coming,” Perencevich said. “You can see it on the horizon.”

Experts expect to see a spike in COVID-19 cases in the state roughly one week from now [December 10], two weeks after the Thanksgiving holiday. That spike will likely precede a surge in hospitalizations and, eventually, a wave of new deaths—maybe as many as 80 a day, Perencevich, the infectious-disease doctor, estimates. Add Christmas and New Year’s to the mix, and Iowans can expect to see nothing less than a tsunami, Perencevich says.

What actually did happen? From the NYT:

Cases peaked on November 13. Given that “cases” are subject to much human whim, e.g., whether people are fed into PCR machines or not, let’s look at deaths:

What happened to the predicted “tsunami” of death after Christmas and New Year’s gatherings? Deaths peaked on December 15. a month after the “case” peak and, thus far, have failed to reach that level again.

Readers: What do you think? If Aristotle can be a great “scientist” despite an inability to predict projectile trajectories or planetary orbits, is it also reasonable to call the coronascientists great despite their inability to predict the likely impact of coronavirus?


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Were coronalockdowns good preparation for sending humans to Mars?

In the dark BC age it was thought that human psychology presented a significant barrier to human exploration of Mars. Humans were social animals who could never tolerate being locked into a small space for seven months, unable to venture out into a hostile and dangerous environment.

But, thanks to young people having meekly surrendered what had previously been considered liberties, we can now draw from a pool of tens of millions of people who spent an entire year in a tiny apartment, often entirely alone, either unable to venture outside or afraid to do so. Perhaps some of them suffered reduced mental health from being sedentary and watching a screen 24/7. But for those who sailed through… this is the ideal pool from which to draw candidates for a Mars mission, no?

The red planet:

(okay, it’s Jordan, 2012, and now apparently open for visitors)

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Politicians tell scientists how dangerous coronaplague in Germany needs to be

From the Dutch NPR (February 9, 2021) plus Google Translate:

‘German ministry hired scientists to induce corona fear’

At the beginning of last year, the German Ministry of the Interior worked with several scientists on a strategy to increase fear of corona in order to foster understanding for drastic corona measures. The newspaper Die Welt reports this on the basis of a leaked email exchange.

The emails date from March and April 2020, when Germany was in the first lockdown. Seehofer was concerned about easing too quickly and instructed his State Secretary Markus Kerber to come up with a plan to create support for stricter measures.

Kerber sent an email to various scientists, universities and research institutes asking, among other things, for a worst-case scenario to get a “mental and systematic” grip on the situation. This would help to plan “measures of a preventive and repressive nature”.

The scientists provided plenty of suggestions, including proposals to put “fear and obedience in the population” on the agenda, writes Die Welt. For example, campaigns could be used with images of people dying of breathlessness because there are no IC beds available.

When you’re making up numbers, there can be a debate at what the numbers should be:

It is striking that scientists “negotiated” among themselves about the possible death toll that should be mentioned. The RKI, the German RIVM, proposed to work with their estimate of 0.56 percent of the infected persons, but an employee of the RWI, an influential economic research institute, argued for the death rate of 1.2 percent.

He wrote that they should think “from the purpose of the model”, which is to emphasize “a great deal of pressure to act” and therefore present the numbers “better worse than too good”.

The opposition demands clarification from Seehofer. It cannot be that politics gets “opinions on demand” from science, says Die Linke party chairman Dietmar Bartsch in Die Welt. According to him, politics and science are doing each other a disservice, because trust in science is being damaged.

The liberal party FDP wants an explanation of the ministry in the interior committee of the Bundestag tomorrow. FDP member Konstantin Kuhle writes on Twitter that it is normal for science and politics to exchange ideas, but it cannot be the case that “tailor-made” results are presented, he says.

The Dutch article links to one in German, but that is paywalled.

A photo from 1997(?) when Siemens was our software company’s customer…

The perfect place to hide from coronavirus!


  • “Coronavirus: Germans’ mental health worse in second lockdown — study” (DW): “Life satisfaction has decreased significantly — worries, stress and depressiveness have increased,” research group leader Dorota Reis told the German news agency DPA. … During the first lockdown, the study participants initially reported that society was moving closer together. They now assessed behavior as “rather selfish and drifting apart,” Reis added.
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Science lawn sign idea

A fair number of our neighbors seem to have invested in “In this house we believe… science is real” or “Science is not a liberal conspiracy” signs. Signs of Justice (TM) are ubiquitous:

How about making some $$ with the following sign:

In this house we oppose science, because it was invented by the white patriarchy to enslave indigenous peoples, to enrich corporations that poison humanity with processed and genetically modified foods, to pollute our local environment, to destroy the Earth with climate change, and to kill millions of non-white people with nuclear weapons.

Readers: Who can turn the above text into a fetching graphic design?

(Don’t try to sell this in Florida. Lawn signs, bumper stickers, and other attempts to tell others how to think and what to believe were present at perhaps 1/100th the rate of what we have here in Maskachusetts.)

From a reader who wishes to remain anonymous, lest he/she/ze/they be Gina Caranoed:

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