Category Archives: Healthcare

Betting against the house on the Covid vaccines

Slot machines

“You have a greater chance of being in a car accident on the way to getting this vaccine than you have of having a problem from this vaccine. But that’s not how people view risk.” — Paul Offit, vaccine expert at Philadelphia Children’s Hospital. Maybe it is because I do not seem to have a gambling gene in my body…. Read more »

Coronavirus mutations and the evolutionary race for time

Ark under construction

The greatest irony of the coronavirus pandemic, in my view, has been that of anti-science political forces who have resisted the most basic mitigation measures facing off against one of the best examples ever of Darwinian evolution and its related math of fecundity being played out in real (and scary-fast) time. And it ain’t over yet, with the exponential spread… Read more »

Keeping Tom Selleck away from your door

Storm

Last autumn I published a series of posts about “the economic vacuum cleaner,” the American way of financing “eldercare” that sucks up the estates of middle class Americans at an alarming rate. I will admit to a rather contrarian view of home ownership for those of us in our “golden years.” For far too many people, the conventional wisdom on… Read more »

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 »

Seven bets on your 2021 Medicare supplement

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Medigap thumbnail

We are in that season, especially in Florida where I live, when my mail is flooded daily with Medicare switching come-ons, and every other television commercial seems to be pitching me as well. One of my most-viewed posts from last year was my advice to treat this decision as a series of bets on “your money or your life.” This… Read more »

Eldercare and the economic vacuum cleaner – part 2

Nursing home

Part One of this series laid out the cashflows draining middle-class estates in the final years of life into the “eldercare industry.” In my view, this is a significant contributor to rising income inequality. Middle-class wealth in the U.S. does not get passed on to the next generation, leaving that group to start over from scratch.  My own children’s generation… Read more »

Eldercare and the economic vacuum cleaner – part 1

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 »