We’re losing the war on misinformation and willful ignorance

We really are.

I’m going back to work today, after isolating due to covid-19. I got the new omicron variant (I presume), with symptoms so mild, I at first thought it was just a cold. And it looks like my prediction is on point… This variant is becoming the dominant covid variant. It’s taking over. That’s good. That’s great! The pandemic is going to fizzle out. Everyone who hasn’t had the disease will get it pretty soon now, and we will all have immunity to the basic virus, at least as far as getting seriously ill is concerned.

But there’s a flip side to this. I have an anti-vaxxer sitting right beside me at work. Nobody is mandating that he get vaccinated. Soon it won’t matter because we’ll all be immune anyway. I’m hearing about people winning their court cases for refusing vaccinations. Maybe it’s only hearsay? I fucking hope so but it really is starting to feel like we’ve lost the war on misinformation.

Welcome to the age of idiocracy.

So confused–I can no longer tell the difference between colds, hayfever, and even covid

I’ve been telling people I never get colds or flu, and all I get is sinusitis. Looks like I was wrong.

The last time I was truly sick was when I got chicken pox, at the tender age of 22. A quick calculation says that was around 1993/4. That’s what I’ve been telling people; the reason being it’s the last time I remember being notably sick. I remember I was a student, I was looking for textbooks along with my brother in some technical book shop (I’ve long since forgotten the name), and I had one or two little yellow bumps on my back that I hadn’t paid attention to. The fever hit like something I’ve never felt since, except maybe for that time I drank 3 shots of Stroh Rum very quickly and it all hit me at once later. Bam! You are now not OK. The rest of that day was a fucking fever dream.

That was the last time I truly felt sick. In the years since, I get the occasional runny nose, aching head, and then blocked nose with dry cough because of a tickle in my throat. Incidentally, that’s exactly what a bad sinus attack feels like. And for me, covid is the same but with the addition of a bad headache and lame legs on day one of showing symptoms. Then after that it’s not notably different from any other cold or flu. I’ve never had a chest cold, and I don’t get a fever any more, or so it would seem.

So apparently I’ve been accidentally lying when telling people I don’t get colds or flu. I do, but they’re hardly an issue because I haven’t had anything but mild symptoms in nearly 30 years. I wonder why that is? There’s one person I would ask (that one who had chicken pox at the same time I did), if he has similar experience, but he’s not talking to me so… It shall remain a mystery. Feel free, my two or three frequent commenters, to let me know if your experiences are similar.

In the meantime… I must conclude that we are all very different. Trust in science and get vaccinated if you aren’t already. Get a booster if you are vaccinated but have had the new covid variant. It can never do harm to take precautions and be safe, despite what our vaccine “hesitant” friends may say. Even if you’re like me and don’t get sick, there are immunocompromised people everywhere, and we need to take the right precautions for their sakes.

[Urgh. My son is throwing up as I write this. He was feeling fine the whole weekend, but complaining of a headache this morning. It seems his immune system still has some growing up to do. I feel bad for him though… When kiddo gets like this, he can’t even get anything down. Not even meds for nausea.]

Just a follow up on my recovery from covid

Nothing much to write…

I’m seeing a lot of articles repeating that symptoms of the omicron variant have been mostly mild; all of them adding the caveat that it’s too soon to tell for sure.

I tested positive on Monday past, and it’s now Friday… the only symptom remaining a bit of phlegm. I don’t even have a sore throat… just a bit of mucus. And the tiredness, but then I’m a lazy fuck so it’s hard to tell how much of it is actual tiredness and how much is just lazy me keen to lay down and do nothing.

Ironically I’m doing a bit of work after hours… I don’t have a choice though… it’s a financial system and I happen to be the best positioned developer to fix certain kinds of problems, which can be costly to my employer. I know… that’s vague… but these are not details I can disclose.

The point is, I’m fine. I’ve a feeling this omicron variant of covid is not too big a deal, and if it does take over as the main variant, maybe this virus is going to mutate into something even less harmful over time. Maybe the worst is behind us and this pandemic is on the way out. Reports also seem to indicate that this variant spreads faster than previous ones, but then, that could just be a perception. Given that the symptoms are mostly mild, it’s possible that people don’t test for covid, thinking as I did that it was just a cold. This would logically lead to cases being underreported and the prevalence of the disease appearing to increase unusually hastily (when we finally do test and pay attention to the numbers).

The trendy fear mongering about COVID is so unnecessary

Last Friday, after going to the doctor, while I got my meds at the local Dischem pharmacy, I noted the visible fear in some of the people there. Paranoia that there may be people around them with COVID. It’s slightly ironic thinking of this now, because little did I know, I was one of the infected.

I went to the doc for two reasons…

  1. My six months were up so I needed a new prescription for my hypertension and anti-depression medication.
  2. I had a slight cold. Bit of a weird one… headache and my legs were lame, snotty throat completely masked by my usual Sinutab sinus, Linctagon C, Corenza C, And ACC 200 cocktail.

So the checkup was for my meds, something I had to do at some point, and the other reason was a doctor’s note to stay off work. He did mention I could go for a covid test if I still didn’t feel OK by Monday. Then, on Sunday my son felt ill. I’d mentioned to HR at work that I might go for a covid test on Monday, but then I almost went… Josh asked me to stay with him, and after I messaged work to say I would not be in, HR suggested I get a test as recommended by my doctor. So I reluctantly went for a test, thinking I’d test negative. But I’m positive.

I’m fine, by the way. Very slightly light-headed and still a bit of a snotty throat but that’s because I’ve stopped taking the cold meds. I may take more tonight but was concerned about taking too much.

My point is… I’m vaccinated. I didn’t get it badly. No shortness of breath. No fever. No loss of taste. My son lost his sense of taste before he showed symptoms, and had a headache for two whole days, then painful ear ache that kept him from sleeping for a whole night, but by now he’s fine too. No idea if the vaccine protected me or how much, but I’m going to repeat what I’ve written before: Trust in science. Vaccines work. Although I do still have mild symptoms, this was barely a cold for me but I get to miss out on the year end function at work and that makes it worthwhile.

Seriously, being afraid like the people I saw at Dischem is so unnecessary. Panic doesn’t help anybody. At this point, let’s treat covid like it is inevitable. Rather get it vaccinated than unvaccinated because from what I’ve heard, all serious hospital cases are the unvaccinated.

Now where are all my anti-vax buddies? Party at my place tonight and you get to leave me in your wills.

New COVID variant… Much ado about… something?

Excuse me but this constant fear mongering is getting out of hand.

Most people I know, including myself, are vaccinated. I haven’t heard of anyone I know, or even a friend of a friend… getting COVID-19 in almost a year. But now there are all kinds of articles trending about the terrible new variant. A friend in the UK is musing on Facebook about how terrible things are here in South Africa, which kind of misses the point… Buddy, if the new variant is here, it is already there too. You can assume that, and the same for the USA. What isn’t clear is if the new variant really mutated here, or if our local scientists, keen for a pat on the back, were too quick to announce their discovery of the variant. Like… “Well done, SA scientists. You are very scientifical. Now we will block flights to/from your country” and they kick us all up the arse.

Am I being hypocritical? “Trust the scientific consensus”, I always say, but… I do not trust the articles trending on Facebook. I do not trust knee-jerk reactions to what looks very much like fear mongering. Trust science when it comes from scientists. Unfortunately scientists don’t write a lot of articles. They do publish papers, but those things are not easy to read. Right now, I’m not seeing anything from the sources I trust. What this means is that there is a lot of nonsense out there on the web, and it’s hard to know what to take seriously.

So… I don’t know. My gut feeling is this is mostly fear mongering, and those of us who are vaccinated should be fine. Just be safe, I guess. Until we have anything more solid, the best info I can find on this new variant is this article from the BBC.

How bad is this variant? Unclear. But if you think it only applies to “backwards” South Africa, you’re missing the point.

Friendly reminder: We are ALL affected by the Dunning Kruger effect. (Vaccines work)

Briefly, in case you didn’t get it from the title, this is a post about the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines and our confidence in them. Most of us (correctly) trust these vaccines, but some people, having fallen victim to their own overconfidence in knowledge they do not possess (but think they do), do not trust the vaccines. I’d like to remind you how the Dunning Kruger effect works and affects us all.

I’m writing this while on leave for a week. I’m mostly playing Diablo 2 Resurrected, which was recently released with enhanced modern graphics. I did go for my second vaccine jab on Tuesday though, and like most people, I experienced zero side effects. (All I got was a slightly sore shoulder that’s already completely healed two days later.) I’m writing this because I’m amazed that people are choosing not to trust science. [Full disclosure – I was directly exposed to COVID-19 in December 2020 at a work function, where I stayed indoors for a while and assisted someone who had it but didn’t know. Unfortunately I only found out months later. So in theory I may have been infected already but was asymptomatic. I guess I’ll never know.]

Let’s start with the simple definition of the Dunning Kruger effect as per Wikipedia:

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a hypothetical cognitive bias stating that people with low ability at a task overestimate their own ability, and that people with high ability at a task underestimate their own ability.

Notice that it refers to everybody. That’s important. We all have limits to our own area or areas of expertise. As a software developer, I know quite a bit about software development – bot not so much (zero) about vaccines. So why do I say you must trust them? Simple: I recognize my own lack of knowledge about this subject, and thus I defer to experts. The best I can do is go with the broadly held scientific consensus. As it happens, I do a little more than that, and read widely about certain subjects, including science based medicine. But it remains an interest of mine, not something I am an expert on. I would never give you medical advice other than to go to relevant experts, and in general, trust in science, including vaccines. It’s as simple as that.

You defer to the relevant experts when you don’t know something. You do not refer to a bunch of idiots on YouTube who parrot widely debunked anti-science nonsense. That’s not how it works.

The Dunning Kruger effect also notes that when we are experts on a subject, we doubt ourselves. Since we doubt ourselves, we double check with other experts to make sure we’re right. That’s what clever people do. Doubling down and telling everybody about a subject we know fuck all about, and should not be talking about, is not what clever people do. That’s what stupid people do. Anti-vax is a position borne of ignorance. Don’t be stupid. Trust science.

Recently I tried to get through to an anti-vaxxer on Facebook, I tried for several days, until he unfriended me for “spreading vaccine misinformation” and “facilitating genocide”. I kid you not. But before he unfriended me, he shared an interesting (OK, I lie. It’s not interesting) rambling and mostly incoherent video on YouTube, which revealed the gist of his position… a conspiracy theory where his opposition to vaccines is really because he opposes “blind trust in authority”.

Here’s the thing: Nobody says you must blindly trust authority. Nobody. Trust the science. Trust the broadly held scientific consensus. Trust the experts – the same ones that multiple governments are relying on in the middle of a pandemic. It’s the obvious, correct, sensible position.

OK, I’m sorry… I’m not doing this to shame him. I’m not going to embed his video, but since it is public, here’s a link to it. I think it shows quite clearly what I mean. It’s rambling and barely coherent. It’s like the poor dude is talking off the top of his had about something he knows nothing about. It’s sad, but don’t forget, people like him are not only a danger to themselves… It’s easy to dismiss them and suggest “Darwin” takes care of them. The real danger they pose is to slow down or stop herd immunity, and I don’t mean the term as used by science deniers a while back… I mean real herd immunity that comes when most of us are immune and the disease is eradicated. Herd immunity is necessary to protect those whose immune systems are so compromised, they really can’t take the vaccine for valid medical reasons. I work with one such person – a guy in his early twenties with a heart condition. He was recently off work for a while because of an enlarged valve in his heart and he is in genuine danger from anti-vaxxers. Him and many others for valid medical reasons. They are the ones whose lives are placed in danger by these overconfident YouTube buffoons.

Do you need to be dewormed? Are you a horse? Neigh? Then you probably don’t need ivermectin.

People are galloping to take this new miracle cure for COVID-19 and some of them are poisoning themselves in the process!
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81UtJvM2KTL._AC_SL1500_.jpg

Sigh. This is the second time I’m writing about ivermectin. Last time somebody commented claiming it does work. And yes, there have been studies indicating it might work against COVID-19, but there is no evidence supporting it working in humans. So maybe it works and maybe it doesn’t. But… my approach is to look at who says it works, and who is being skeptical.

At the moment, the same people who are pushing for it were once advocates for vitamin C and hydroxychloroquine. The people pushing against it believe in vaccines. I’m no expert, but it looks like this is another quack cure and that’s why I was sarcastic when I wrote about it last time.

When sources I read often, and trust, such as Dr David Gorski, use the word “quack” in relation to an unproven remedy, I tend to sway towards believing them. In science and medicine especially, relevant authorities matter.

But hey! It’s apple flavoured!

Seriously, folks… This is your life. There are times to fuck around, but when it comes to life and death, don’t be stupid. Don’t be hasty and take unproven medication because the people pushing it may very well backpedal later. “We made a mistake”, they might say (or more likely they won’t, but either way they won’t be held accountable) – meanwhile you could be dead.

And while it may be true that ivermectin hasn’t been tested in humans, that is a double-edged sword… I mean, it works on SARS-CoV-2 in a petri dish, and while I can’t find any articles about its toxity in humans, I did find one that lists the symptoms of its toxicity in dogs, and they don’t look good:

Ivermectin is a drug commonly and safely used in many dogs to treat a variety of parasitic infections. This drug is also commonly used in cattle and horses at much higher doses — which can be toxic to dogs, if they are exposed to the medication. Certain types of dogs, including but not limited to collies and Australian shepherds, are also far more susceptible to the toxic effects of the drug.

Toxicity signs include depression, disorientation, nonresponsiveness, blindness, drooling, tremors, and walking like he/she is “drunk.” More severe signs, especially in the susceptible breeds, include low heart rate, low breathing rate, coma and death.

And considering that the people who typically want to take this substance are trying to use it preventatively, that is they don’t have COVID-19, it seems like a terrible risk to me. Why take a substance that might cause blindness or death to treat a disease you don’t have, when you don’t know if a safe dosage is even possible or that a dosage high enough to be effective is safe at all, when there is a vaccine?

I hope I’ve made a strong case for not using it this time around…

Ivermectin does not treat COVID-19 in humans. Don’t believe the hype.

I see there is a high profile court case in my country to get this bullshit cure approved.

Here is a well written article about Ivermectin via the US government. Relevant bit:

Ivermectin has been shown to inhibit the replication of SARS-CoV-2 in cell cultures. However, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies suggest that achieving the plasma concentrations necessary for the antiviral efficacy detected in vitro would require administration of doses up to 100-fold higher than those approved for use in humans.

Please see the article… Just the bit I quoted has 3 citations.

Translation from the bit I quoted… Just because something works in a laboratory doesn’t mean it will work when taken as a medicine. In this case, the dosage would have to be 100 times the safe dosage in humans for it to have antiviral efficacy. In other words, you can also “cure” someone of the virus by pouring petrol over them and setting them on fire, but it kind of isn’t much use to be virus free when you’re dead anyway.


Edit… I hadn’t actually read the article I first linked… So the locals fighting for the right to use this nonsense treatment are AfriForum, the same goons who fight against government with their false narrative about farm murders and “white genocide”.  Amazingly they have doctors on board. They’re wrong though. Remember folks… racists are always idiots, even the ones with degrees in medicine.

This denial culture is getting a little silly now

So I made a little joke on Facebook earlier and it went like this…

image

It was a reference to a status I saw earlier, a status where someone asserted, quite seriously, that the testing for coronavirus is causing the disease, apparently because Donald Trump said something to that effect and she believed him. I don’t even know if that’s the right quote, because I interpret his statement differently, but maybe innuendo is all his supporters need and he knows just what to say to lead them to those conclusions.

Anyway, the status hung around for most of the day, and then quite suddenly, with another from recently that also mocked conspiracy theories, it got picked up by a believer.

This:

image

Here’s a closeup of the image RaSun attached:

104588271_312162626468902_54226777118904878_n

Um, I hope I don’t have to explain why just about any 3 digit number will result in equally “meaningful” results… I replied with this:

104289158_3553828204627980_6781535744892233761_n

I don’t really have much to add – just sharing this for a laugh. It amazes me that somebody not only sees this meaning that isn’t there, but that he calls me and everybody else who agrees with me (surely most people on the planet) stupid because we don’t believe the outright nonsense that he believes. Not sure what he thinks is significant about 322, but I don’t really care to find out.

Update…

Then I shared this:

17-06-2020 9-18-06 PM

And now I see he wrote his own status, this:

17-06-2020 9-19-01 PM

The guy seems really upset so I’m going to back off now. I do wonder how it is that he manages to cherry pick the wacky conspiracies but fails to see when there might be real conspiracies, that don’t support his narrative.

Urgh. Pandemic deniers are doubling down on the stupid

You’ll have to excuse the excessive quantity but not necessarily quality of blog posts from me lately. I’m going slightly mad, cooped up here at home. I wrote three or four posts over the weekend and only published two of them, because I try to keep some semblance of quality here. Oh well…

Still A Facebook ghost, I lurk and read the shit on my wall. Amazed. Let me show you two posts that showed up right now:

Retardation

That one isn’t in my friends list but was screen grabbed by a friend.

As annoying as that one is, I find this one even worse:

EarLoopMaskBullshit

Shared by a friend who is also an atheist and critical thinker, it doesn’t look like she exercised her critical thinking so well to me. That label is highly implausible. I mean, it is obvious bullshit. Why would you make masks with a label informing everyone not to use them? For fuck’s sake, think, people!

I wear a mask not to protect myself, but in the hope that, should I become infected and not know it, as long as I don’t sneeze or cough really hard, it should be effective enough at protecting the people around me. It should prevent droplets containing the virus being released by me. That’s why I wear a mask… It’s not all about me.

If we all take reasonable precautions, maybe we can slow the spread of the virus. So far we do seem to be doing a good job of keeping the rate of mortality down. I’m no expert, but I’m going to go with whatever seems best.