This article correctly and powerfully documents the political pressures in the CDC.

It mysteriously downplays the fact that the reason CDC was so easy to push around is they flagrantly ignored the actual scientific literature on epidemic management FOR MONTHS.
The tosser line about how most scientists think travel bans don’t work is hilarious since we have quite solid evidence pre-COVID that travel bans DO work.
There’s abundant evidence masks work. Not CDC-publishes evidence alas because guess what the CDC has had a ridiculous and silly approach to epidemic fighting for a very long time!
Guess how much empirical proof there is that deploying graduates of the CDC’s “epidemiological SWAT team” to a region alters the course of an epidemic.

Zero. There’s zero evidence of that. Because it hasn’t been tested. Because it’s not about evidence.
The whole “greatest infectious disease center in the world” but is hilarious. Lol yes sure so great that they can’t publish vital statistics on time even before COVID.
The reason it was easy to bully the CDC is they weren’t that great to begin with and the entire playbook they adopted for the disease was wrong and based on a shift in strategy which is now decades old to adopt wrong-headed thinking about the epidemiological transition.
The CDC is deeply committed to the idea that the real epidemics of today are not actual epidemics but smoking and guns and obesity— which are all real problems, but this commitment leads to absurd official statements like “the era of infectious diseases is over.”
They closed networks of quarantine sites! They had no protocol for evacuations! They couldn’t get their people into origin areas! They publicly opposed effective measures! They underperformed numerous other CDCs even before political interference, and despite MUCH more funding.
The political interference was bad. The bit about the dog is especially facepalmy.

But ya know what? CDC’s fixation on churches was unscientific and discriminatory: we now know the only reason churches seemed bad is because churches were cooperating with tracers better.
Yes, singing probably spreads the virus more.

So does exercising! So does sexual contact! Singling out religious institutions wasn’t science, it was just CDC’s scientists assuming that the data they saw was the whole picture.
While CDC officials were flailing and had no idea what was going on, they told people not to panic.

That was destructive and indefensible. Fear and panic was wise in January and February and discouraging it killed thousands.
Instead of a confident institution and rational public panic, we got a wildly overconfident public and a panicking institution.

The political interference is bad. But it is endogenous to a public health establishment more interested in policing churches than encouraging masks.
It’s just hilarious to me as well CDC seriously thought “ban US citizen cruise ship passengers from entering but let in undocumented immigrants” was “science.” It might make ethical sense in certain models but it is noooooot science.
Especially since we now know that Latin American outbreaks actually ARE vastly worse than in the US, the advice to not seal the southern border just doesn’t seem like great advice.
Where the article is too hard on the CDC is on test development. FDA is the worst culprit, tons of labs struggled to get a test, and the errors made were normal errors any smart, well-intentioned researcher could have made.
Furthermore, tests are superfluous for early control. Quarantine everyone, wear masks, seal the borders. None of that requires tests. The CDC’s problem was opposing those measures, not hiccups in the lab.

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More from @lymanstoneky

16 Oct
This chart seems like a surprisingly strong endorsement of the Swedish approach.
People looking at this seeing Sweden’s death toll are assuming that Sweden’s death toll is because of low mitigation... but Finland had low mitigation efforts too! And Spain had high mitigation efforts!
It looks a lot like death tolls are not closely related to mitigation effort, but that the direct economic loss/death toll relationship *only exists* in countries with high mitigation intensity.
Read 6 tweets
16 Oct
But WHY are they rare elsewhere? I still haven’t seen any empirical study getting at this.

Does the US have fewer polling sites? Inefficient machines? Longer ballots? Voters who take longer to make decisions? More bureaucratic hurdles? What’s the actual mechanism?
Because the only elections I’ve ever seen up close outside the US were in Hong Kong and Malaysia and in both cases I saw massive lines bigger than I’ve ever seen in the US but of course both cases are also *ahem* flawed democracies.
But figuring out exactly what factors drive precinct congestion seems.... important?
Read 5 tweets
15 Oct
Rather exciting professional announcement:
The upshot of this is: you can expect my writing on babies and stuff to continue, and that I'm gonna try to tie it all together into a ~~~BOOK~~~
Also feel like Very Online Religion just absolutely cruuuuushed it in this go-around with Novak y'all.
Read 4 tweets
15 Oct
*deep sigh*

This is an example of reporting the study, and not the meta-analysis.

Meta-analysis shows NO CHANGE in pregnancy conditions.…
For entire U.S. states which have data (Florida and Oregon), there's been no change in birthweight trends or gestational age.
Also, I can't help but note that most of the studies showing beneficial effects are based on hospital and testing datasets.... but odds of complete and timely testing and hospital birth have been impacted by COVID-19!
Read 8 tweets
14 Oct
One of the kindest things you can do for your child is to so intensively embed the signs and sounds of faith in them that when they get dementia, the stripping away of years of memory and toil reveals not a core of bitterness but the habits of heaven.
People facing memory loss have many anxieties. One powerful and acute anxiety is "who will I become? what will I be like?" The thing is by the time an adult is old enough to worry about this, it is often beyond their control. Those decisions were made decades prior.
Of course, who we are after dementia is not "who we truly are." That's a pernicious lie which is deeply hostile and injurious to people experiencing cognitive decline. That's not my point.
Read 6 tweets
13 Oct
This is a good question! Does anyone have comparable data on number of polling places and voting lines across countries?
American turnout for elections is comparatively LOW, yet we appear to have uniquely long lines and delays.

What’s going on?

Are the delays the cause of the low turnout? Unrelated? What causes them? Fewer polling stations? More ballot items to consider?
Like do other countries just have 5x as many polling sites??
Read 5 tweets

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