Sunday, December 13, 2020

Happy holidays

Dear Professor Kaufman,

I hope you are doing well in this age of viruses and lockdowns.

We had 7 months of great weather
70s Thursday bright sun, no clouds.
50s Friday with rain.
30s Saturday with wind felt cold.
I had to go shopping for nuts and fruits…
Got stuck in crowds with viruses peak afternoon rush.

I am trying to avoid crowds until April
Reducing my indoor walking until spring.
30 mile walk at 3MPH is 10 hours of breathing gym germs.
Will wait until April to ramp up my walk / run to get ready for marathons.

Everything checked out ok on my annual physical exam, lucky.
Trying to avoid falls, germs, crimes, accidents, cars, planes….
Hard to avoid problems as one gets older.

I am concentrating on mathematics, hard, becoming eccentric, the hardest problems I ever saw.

News is painful, disgusting but some facts do leak into the media that has mostly become disinformation.
Huge changes in the economy.
Some may become permanent.
Will take 10 years to see what happens.
Rich are getting richer.
Poor are getting poorer.
Joe Xiden Kamalass Harris looks like a disaster.
Communists everywhere, elites, rich, debt, bankruptcies,….
Lockdown the world population house arrest?
May provoke a violent counter-reaction.

The "Expert Consensus" Also Favored Alcohol Prohibition

America's experiment with alcohol prohibition as a national embarrassment, rightly repealed in 1933.

So it will be with the closures and lockdowns of 2020

prevailing opinion backed by celebratory scientists
and exalted social thinkers.
"expert consensus."

social costs far outweighed the supposed benefits?

dared to speak out against what was obviously a disastrous policy?

leading intellectuals that Prohibition made perfect sense to clean up the social order.

"science" behind Prohibition,
society had tremendous numbers of pathologies on the loose and they all traced to liquor.

There was poverty, crime, fatherless households, illiteracy, political alienation, social immobility, city squalor, and so on.

You can look carefully at the data to find that in all these cases, there is a common element of alcohol.
eliminating this factor would be the single greatest contribution to eliminating the pathologies.
The evidence was incontrovertible.

alcohol is a product with no equilibrium in consumption.
One is either good and abstains from alcohol,
or one becomes a drunkard and self-destructs."

The most influential pro-Prohibition economist of the next generation was the rock star academic and social progressive

Irving Fisher contributions to making economics more about data than theory are legendary.
So was his push for eugenics.
he was also a passionate opponent of all alcohol.

his colleagues were either bamboozled by the prevailing "science"
or afraid to disagree with the reigning orthodoxy.

Even as political establishments were being corrupted, crime and liquor lords were rising up all over the country, and tens of thousands of speakeasies were thriving.

Claiming that Prohibition had created $6 billion in wealth for the U.S.
– a figure that was frequently cited as authoritative,
Fisher wrote:

Prohibition is here to stay.
If not enforced, its blessings will speedily turn into a curse.
There is no time to lose.
Although things are much better than before Prohibition,
with the possible exception of disrespect for law, they may not stay so.
Enforcement will cure disrespect for law and other evils complained of, as well as greatly augment the good. American Prohibition will then go down in history as ushering in a new era in the world, in which accomplishment this nation will take pride forever.

To see how the $6 billion figure was calculated
and to observe the rest of the astonishing mathematical gymnastics behind the "science" backing Prohibition,
look at Thornton's detailed presentation.
It's a perfect picture of pseudoscience in action.

The Journal of the American Medical Association said of alcohol prohibition in 1920:
"Most of us are convinced that it is one of the most beneficent acts ever passed by a legislature."

I'm reminded of the CDC scientific conclusion that closing restaurants during a pandemic will save lives
– a conclusion based on a study so weak
that anyone with a passing familiarity with statistics and causality can immediately observe its failings
(the same study, would also demonstrate that masks make no difference in virus spread).

Another obvious case was the unscientific closures of schools.

What finally broke Prohibition was not the replacement of one scientific orthodoxy for another

but the noncompliance on the part of most of the population.

When enforcement became unviable,
and FDR saw opposition to Prohibition as politically advantageous,
the law finally changed.

When we look back on American history,
Prohibition stands out as one of the craziest social and economic experiments of modern times.
The very idea that the government, on its own authority and power,
was going to purge from a Western society the production and distribution of alcohol,
strikes us today as a millennarian pipedream,
one that turned into disaster for the whole country.

We could say the same about lockdowns in 2020.
Indeed, measuring the absurdities on a scale of extremism,
the idea of lockdowns,
with forceful human separation,
mandatory masking,
and the practical abolition of
all large gatherings,
and travel,
seems even more sadistically preposterous than alcohol prohibition.

The madness of crowds,
often backed by the "best science,"
never goes away.

It just finds new forms of legal expression in new times.

Only once the crowds come to their senses do the real scientists make a comeback and prevail,

while the fake science that backed despotism pretends like it never happened.

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