Category Archives: Coronavirus

When your coronavirus theology kills people

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Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

Perhaps there are two kinds of normal people…There are those who don’t believe in free will and thereby don’t have free will, and there are those who do believe in free will and thereby actually have free will. ” Daniel Dennett, Freedom Evolves. I will be upfront about my definition of “bad theology” here: Bad theology is a belief system… Read more »

The moral conversation around coronavirus vaccine priorities

Who Am I?

It did not take long for the difficult moral questions around who gets the Covid-19 vaccination first to get ugly. At Stanford University an algorithm for distributing the vaccine prioritized older doctors working remotely over young interns and residents who are in daily contact with Covid patients, resulting in a public shaming demonstration. After the bad public attention, the university… Read more »

Probability, uncertainty and inanity with the coronavirus

Bayes theorem

The very bad polling outcomes from the 2020 U.S presidential election pointed out the key differences between two often-confused topics. Pre-election polls are measured in percentages and look like probabilities, but they are really trying to quantify uncertainty, and there is a very big difference between the two that the public largely does not understand. The same confusion has bled… Read more »

When innumeracy kills

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Covid risk of harm

In mid-November a fundamentalist Tulsa megachurch held a packed, largely-maskless Christian concert for 2500 people. I’ll deal with the theological ironies in a later post, but despite their likely support for “Right to Life,” I can confidently say that, statistically, the attendees surely murdered people with the coronavirus that night, perhaps people even not in attendance. Ignorance of basic mathematics… Read more »

Moral luck, Donald Trump and the coronavirus

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Trump Covid

The concept of moral luck is one of the more curious sidelines in the study of ethics, at the intersection of moral philosophy and mathematics. However, Donald Trump’s bizarre reactions up to, during, and after contracting Covid-19 make for a great opportunity to look at the concept. In short, President Trump first ascribed his escape from Covid for the first… Read more »

The disqualifying hubris of Amy Coney Barrett

Trump & Barrett

Hubris was a common theme in ancient Greek theater. Excessive pride and arrogance were punished by the gods with a spectacular fall from grace and power. And hubris seems to be a requirement for recent nominees to the Supreme Court. However, the hubris being shown by Judge Amy Coney Barrett in her ill-timed nomination is so egregious that she must… Read more »

Eldercare and the economic vacuum cleaner – part 1

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Nursing home corridor

Rich people pass on wealth to their children; poor people don’t. And increasingly, middle-class people don’t either. We know that this lack of inheritance in the middle and lower ends is a significant force behind rising income inequality over the last 30 years. Much of the “extraction” of net worth from middle-class families happens in the last years of their… Read more »

Choose your own stock market adventure

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If you are fortunate to be living off sizable and broadly diversified investments in the world’s financial markets, then your financial position by mid-August likely came back pretty close to where it was in January of 2020, before the “Coronavirus Crash.” This is especially true when dividends and interest payments received since then are included. And if you are not?… Read more »

Covid math you learned in elementary school

Desk

The three major Covid-19 mitigations available to “normal folks” have clearly become highly politicized. The frustrating thing here is that all three are based on science and mathematics principles that you likely learned in elementary school, but have either been forgotten or have been overridden by anti-science political cultism. So, squeeze yourself back into that 5th grade desk and let’s… Read more »

The anatomy of an 11-day Covid-19 test report

Covid testing Sarasota

The test result finally came eleven days, almost to the hour, from getting swabbed at a mass drive-up testing site on July 2nd. Even then, the confirmation came not through the official portal, but rather via secure email from one of the several email, website response and telephone call queries I had been making for several days. I had been… Read more »