Lies, Damn Lies, And Statistics

I was taught there are three ways to lie.

Most people will tell untruths in a fashion that leads people to believe the lies. Others will lie by omission, telling the truth but leaving things out that changes the perception of the true. More uncommon but one of the most effective ways to lie is to tell the absolute truth, leaving nothing out, but telling the truth in such a fashion that people believes that everything that was said was a lie. It is the second method that is used most often when someone uses statistics to prove their point. A case in point is this from the Pew Research Center (by way of Instapundit) that tries to paint a picture that is entirely deceiving, claiming that Covid-19 deaths have been declining in Democrat congressional districts, but have been stable in GOP districts, i.e., not declining. This is a screen capture of the tweet from Pew showing the decline.

Looks like the Dem districts are indeed seeing a decline in Covid-19 deaths. See, it’s right there in the chart! But what’s missing?

The chart showing the deaths in GOP congressional districts.

Here’s the full chart showing the deaths in both Democrat and Republican districts.

Looking at both sets of data one can now see the Pew Research Center was misleading the public with their tweet, even though they did not outright lie. Instead they withheld the information that changed the meaning of what they published. It was a lie of omission, one used to serve a specific narrative.


Out On The Lake

It was a warm day here in central New Hampshire. Both my ex and our son had the day off, as did I. (Taking some vacation time, I am.) So we headed out on to Lake Winnipesaukee for a few hours, visiting both Alton Bay and Paugus Bay at opposite ends of the lake. That there were very few people out on the lake made it even better than it might have been under normal circumstances.

The Boat is now back at its dock and I made my way back home for dinner.


Thoughts On A Sunday

It is Memorial Day Weekend here in Coronavirus America, though not everyplace may be showing it as the unofficial start of the summer season.

Our town has scaled back its Memorial Day observances in light of the precautions being taken to help prevent any spreading of the Wuhan virus. There will be wreath-laying and a prayer at our town’s WWI and WWII Memorial in our village center and at the War Memorial in the nearby cemetery. But there will be no parade, no speeches, no marching band. It will be a smaller and more sober remembrance than those in the past...and perhaps more poignant.


During my travels around town yesterday (with my guest co-pilot, Mike), I noticed a number of contradictory things regarding the unofficial start of summer.

When I first ventured out, making my every-other weekly trip to the dump, traffic was surprisingly light. At that time of the morning – 10 a.m. - there is usually a surge in traffic as folks head out to take care of their shopping and other errands. It’s like a switch is thrown and everyone so inclined hops into their cars/trucks/SUVs to take care of those errands. But not yesterday. Traffic was surprisingly light for that time of the morning. In fact, it was almost non-existent.

After the trip to the dump, my co-pilot and I traveled around the town as I showed him some small number of various highlights – one of the lakeside parks, the town docks, one of our local eateries which had set up a tent for outdoors dining, one of our “old-fashioned” general stores, our DPW (he likes that kind of stuff), one of our farm stands, as well as some of the more scenic views of the lake and mountains.

By noon, traffic had gone from minimal to looking more like rush hour in a big city – heavy traffic, bumper-to-bumper on one of the state roads running through our town, lots of motorcycles, lots of SUVs and trucks hauling boat trailers, many of those also stuffed with all kinds of gear and luggage for the long weekend...or for the whole summer as folks were also opening their summer cottages and camps. It pretty much remained that way until later in the afternoon, then dropped off to more normal traffic levels.

A resident living near the town docks reported traffic at the boat ramps had been insane during late Friday afternoon, sending us a couple of photos showing the traffic jam at the ramps. Both this and the traffic seen on Saturday may be indicative of pent up demand and the feeling of freedom now that summer is here, even unofficially.


As Lord John Maynard Keynes once said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do?”

It seems that people, including scientists, are hesitant to publicly change their minds when facts change or new facts override old ‘facts’. It seems a lot of that doesn’t always come from their reluctance to actually change their minds so much as their fear of losing face or the public losing their faith in them.

Science always changes as new discoveries are made that add to or override old knowledge that changes our perceptions about our lives, our world, or our universe.

As Albert Einstein once said on the matter, “It doesn’t matter if 10,000 scientists agree with me. All it takes is one to prove me wrong.” He understood that if the facts of what he believed changed, then his beliefs were in error and that he would need to change his beliefs to match the facts. To do anything else was dishonest.

Maybe it’s time for all of the self-proclaimed ‘scientists’ out there to take it to heart...particularly practitioners of Political Science masquerading as actual scientists.


In line with the above, there’s this from Scientific American, a once worthy science journal now reduced to being politically correct rather than scientifically correct: Researchers identify a major risk factor for pernicious effects of misinformation.

While this article dates back to 2018, it is no less accurate for being two years old.

“Fake news” is Donald Trump’s favorite catchphrase. Since the 2016 election, it has appeared in hundreds of tweets by the President, decrying everything from accusations of sexual assault against him to the Russian collusion investigation to reports that he watches up to eight hours of television a day. Trump may just use “fake news” as a rhetorical device to discredit stories he doesn’t like, but there is evidence that real fake news is a serious problem. As one alarming example, an analysis by the internet media company Buzzfeed revealed that during the final three months of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, the 20 most popular false election stories generated around 1.3 million more Facebook engagements—shares, reactions, and comments—than did the 20 most popular legitimate stories. The most popular fake story was “Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President.”

Fake news can distort people’s beliefs even after being debunked. For example, repeated over and over, a story such as the one about the Pope endorsing Trump can create a glow around a political candidate that persists long after the story is exposed as fake. A 2017 study published in the journal Intelligence suggests that some people may have an especially difficult time rejecting misinformation. Asked to rate a fictitious person on a range of character traits, people who scored low on a test of cognitive ability continued to be influenced by damaging information about the person even after they were explicitly told the information was false. The study is significant because it identifies what may be a major risk factor for vulnerability to fake news.

We see it every day on Facebook, in comments posted about a news story or blog post, and on the actual news outlets like the DNC-MSM. I have seen it when someone makes the long-debunked claim that Blue states pay more in federal taxes than Red states and that Red states receive more in federal funds than Blue states. I have responded to that claim, using information readily available from Federal Government websites that show how the numbers are being manipulated. Larger states with the correlating larger populations always pay more in federal taxes than smaller states. That’s a no-brainer. But when you look at the numbers based upon per capita taxes paid, the numbers shift showing that Red states tend to send more money to Washington DC than Blue states. The same is true if federal funds sent to the individual states is broken down by category, things like Welfare, Medicaid, SNAP, Medicare, Social Security, highway funds, law enforcement grants, federal wages (for federal employees), military wages/operating funds/procurement/etc., and so on. It then takes on an entirely different picture.

Even when sent links to state/federal government websites proving where the money comes from and where it goes, the Progressive Left will continue to insist they are right and that the facts don’t matter. They can’t help themselves if for no other reason that it doesn’t meet with their closely held beliefs. Therefore, they choose to ignore the facts and continue to spread their debunked misinformation. This is but one small example. Others abound...on both sides of the political aisle.


I watched as ABC News showed the failure of two dams in Michigan due to heavy rains, the commentary telling us that at least one of the dams hadn’t been in compliance with state law and that regulators would be investigating the dam failure, keeping that non-compliance in mind during the investigation.

The problem? The dam owner had wanted to lower the level of the lake waters behind the dam because of concerns for its reliability, but the state refused permission to do so because they were more concerned for the fate of endangered fresh water mussels. The dam failed under the heavy rains and the mussels were just as imperiled, if not more so, than if the dam owner had been allowed to lower the lake level as it had requested.

Such is the short-sightedness of government bureaucracies.


And that’s the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the summerfolk are evident in great numbers, everyone is trying to get their boats into the water at the same time, and the summer restaurants are doing a lot of business.


Resistance To Stay-At-Home Edicts Rising

Listening to the various news reports on the DNC-MSM about the increasing resistance against the stay-at-home edicts issued by the various states’ governors, one gets the impression they are trying to shame people they don’t like to fall in line and comply, to be “Good Germans” and listen to their F├╝hrer. Snitch lines were set up to “inform” on those refusing to comply any longer. Even ‘snitches’ turned the tables on the snitch lines, informing on actual snitches, providing false reports, or leaving expletive-laden “denunciations”, making the snitch lines all but useless.

Some dissenters have been singular, refusing to comply with over-the-top shutdown orders by keeping their businesses open or enjoying outdoors areas like parks, hiking and bike trails, and beaches. Others were collective, officials like mayors, city and town councilors, county commissioners, county sheriffs, and police chiefs, citing their refusal to violate the US and their state’s Constitution by issuing citations or arresting people for violating gubernatorial or municipal executive orders that made no sense. Some saw the edicts as being nothing more than a one-size-fits-all solution to a problem that didn’t exist in their communities. Government actions taken in large metropolitan areas either didn’t make sense or wouldn’t work in more sparsely populated areas, but that didn’t stop them from being imposed anyways.

Many of the shutdown measures went way too far, making it obvious those advising state and local officials had little understanding of many of the businesses they were forcing to close, little understanding of the processes and services used and provided by them.

Restrictions were placed on what goods that could be purchased by people that also made no sense. Why would anyone (*cough* *cough* Governor Whitmer *cough*) feel it was necessary to ban the purchase of things like vegetable seeds, fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides, just to name a few? All it did was add more of a burden to the citizens of Michigan already burdened by other over-the-top restrictions on everyday activities. Did the folks deciding on this restriction really believe such restrictions would make any difference whatsoever, or was it a test to see the if there were limits to their power and to what their subjects…err…constituents would submit? At least that question has been answered in part – The Powers That Be went too far and the peasants have had enough and are revolting.

We have certainly been seeing a growing resistance here in my home state of New Hampshire. Seeing how Covid-19 has been affecting primarily one section of the populace, and seeing how such a large percentage of the deaths have happened in long-term care facilities to patients with underlying health conditions, adjustments should ne made to the various restrictions since we know it is those at risk that must be protected. Keeping everyone under the one-size-fits-all ‘solution’ is a non-starter and is hurting far more people than it’s helping. While some of those restrictions are being lifted over the next couple of weeks, it isn’t happening fast enough. Locking down long-term care facilities – nursing homes, assisted living communities, rehab facilities – makes perfect sense and is easier to achieve. (My ex works at one such long-term care facility and they locked down around the time the first case was reported in New Hampshire. So far, they have had exactly zero cases among residents and staff. They did it right.)

It must be mentioned that not all states went on lockdown. South Dakota was one such and the population wasn’t struck down by the pandemic nor were their hospitals overwhelmed by the sick. One has to wonder if other rural and thinly settled areas round the nation would have done just as well as South Dakota.


Thoughts On A Sunday

It looks like we’ve made it through yet another week in Coronavirus America.

I have to say I am disappointed in a number of my fellow Granite Staters, with them buying into the “We need to destroy ourselves in order to save ourselves” bulls**t. Some of them cite the ‘surge’ in new cases of Covid-19 as a reason to keep our economy shut down, choosing to ignore the reason for that surge: a lot more testing. What I’d like them to do is to look at the number of people tested for antibodies and compare them to the number of positive cases. As time goes forward, I think they’ll find the ratio of positive cases to those testing positive for antibodies is going to show a similar ratio as that seen in the San Francisco Bay area, approximately one positive Covid-19 case for every eighty-five people showing positive for antibodies.

I have decided to get tested for antibodies as I am curious to see how widespread the presence of this coronavirus may be. It will not be a surprise if I test positive. I will let you know once I find out.


Imperial College model used to justify UK and U.S. lockdowns deemed ‘buggy mess’ & ‘total unreliable’ by experts.

As the tagline in the above linked post states, “One expert’s damning assessment: “In our commercial reality, we would fire anyone for developing code like this and any business that relied on it to produce software for sale would likely go bust.””

I would be fired from my job if I used a circuit simulation model as defective as this one, and rightfully so. No one, including me, would be able to trust anything coming out of it. If we did, there would be no confidence the circuit would work. Would we ‘bet the farm’ developing a product based upon such a defective model? No. So why would governments decide pandemic policy based upon a model as defective as the Imperial College model?


By way of Maggie’s Farm comes these two quotes that may apply to the above.

" If you thought that science was certain - well, that is just an error on your part."

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool."

-Richard P. Feynman

I’ll now add one that I have used more than once that is within the same vein as those by Feynman:

It doesn’t matter if 10,000 scientists agree with me. All it takes is one to prove me wrong.

-Albert Einstein


More than a few people have commented that the our present crisis should not be used as an excuse to bail out those spendthrift states who now find themselves on the verge of bankruptcy. They are not in this financial state because of Covid-19, but because they were already on the financial brink before the pandemic ‘panic’ is pushing them over the edge.

A group of Wisconsin lawmakers have asked their state’s congressional delegation “asking them not to support any coronavirus relief bill that gives money to Illinois and other states with a history of “reckless budgeting.”” If these states receive a bailout it is highly unlikely they will reform their profligate spending, making financial promises they have neither the wherewithal or the intention to keep. It would be throwing good money after bad.

In New Hampshire, Greg Moore, the New Hampshire state director of Americans For Prosperity is voicing a similar opinion.

With our nation expecting to borrow $3 trillion in this quarter alone, pushing our overall debt over $25 trillion, some states want to compound this economic harm by asking federal taxpayers to bail them out from decades of bad choices.

It is time for some true leaders to step up and say “no.”

Illinois legislative leadership requested a $44 billion bailout, with $10 billion going directly to plug holes in their pension fund, which has been chronically mismanaged for decades. Illinois’ budget for the current fiscal year is $40 billion, making that state’s bailout request $4 billion more than they planned to spend for the whole year.

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom joined other Western governors to ask the federal government for $1 trillion. That state has had huge financial problems for years, and getting the federal government to bail it out would stall needed changes that must happen and should have taken place already.

New Hampshire hit some financial difficulties as part of the Great Recession that started in 2008-2009, taking measures that returned the state to financial health. State spending was reduced by up to 18% in 2011 and follow-on state spending held in check until the economy recovered. The state did what it needed to do to return New Hampshire government to financial health. It appears states like Illinois, California, Connecticut, New Jersey are unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary to return to financial health. They want someone else to pay their bills and bail out their pensions systems.

This phenomenon also happens at a lower level, as we’ve seen here in New Hampshire, though more on a theoretical level. At one point a reporter working for one of our local newspapers expressed the opinion that the wealthier towns should be giving money to towns that were struggling to make ends meet. Skip Murphy, he of the famous GraniteGrok blog, put him in his place.

His real goal? No one town keeps ANY of its revenue – the same with any local control which goes to a central location. How do I know this? Like Niel Young, I fell off Kitch’s list a long time ago after a knock down, drag out over this exact topic.

My argument – [our town works] HARD at keeping expenses low and taxes low. We manage our town well – sure, my hamlet provides more than the limited government that I would prefer, but rather within a loose range of "ok".

His take? We should tax more, and then send it to towns and cities that need it. Made no difference if they had been careful stewards of the taxpayer monies. Made no different if they had kept their expenditures lower than possible. Made no difference if they had just spent their taxpayers into the ground recklessly.

If they need it, and if we had "extra capacity", we were simply cold-hearted by not taking it from OUR taxpayers and sending it to those that had, admittedly, mis-managed their finances. We were stingy and just plain rotten, for there were citizens in need (regardless that their elected officials were just plain unmitigated disasters) that needed our money. The small little fact of "then why do those needy citizens keep re-electing those fiascos" fell of deaf ears – it was OUR problem because WE had the money – and they didn’t.

Some of the ‘property poor’ towns are property poor because of decisions made by town officials or the townsfolk themselves at town meeting. Yet towns that did the right things and made the right decisions are somehow obligated to help the towns that consistently make the wrong financial decisions?

This is insanity, be it at state or local level.


Moonbattery has its own take on the crippling looting spree planned by the Democrats (see above).

The ChiCom virus has been seized upon as a pretext for a radical expansion of Big Government. If Democrats have their way, the extravagant wasteful spending is only just beginning.


Already, the federal government paying people not to work is making it impossible to reopen businesses. Imagine the situation when a family of five is paid $120,000 per year for doing nothing.

Flinging around hundreds of $billions every month with ever fewer people generating wealth for that money to represent will quickly produce Zimbabwe levels of inflation. Before long, $120,000 will not be enough to put food on the table.

Yet another step the Democrats are taking to build their socialist ‘utopia’.


And that’s the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the weather is getting better (slowly), summer season businesses are opening...cautiously, and where my boat is finally in the water and tied up at its summer home.


Hear Our Prayers...

It was a busy day today, with the morning devoted to prepping the Official Weekend Pundit Lake Winnipesaukee Runabout to be put back into the water, and the afternoon/early evening visiting friends up north. (They live in a county with only 4 reported Covid-19 cases, so the chance of catching it from them was very low, and that the county where I reside has 49 reported cases, of which 39 have recovered, so the chance of them catching it from me is pretty darned low.) So time to put together something cogent and riveting just wasn't there. Instead, I'll share something with you that my ex shared with me:


Karens: The Apocalypse

I wish this was only satire. But somehow it seems a little to real to me and it scares me. It should scare you, too.

The only way they'd get me is if I ran out of ammo.

Just sayin'...


Thoughts On A Sunday

We’ve managed to make it through yet another week here in Coronavirus America.

It has been a little weird here in New England, weather-wise. Here it is, mid-May, and we’ve seen weather and temperatures more appropriate for mid-December. We had a couple of inches of snow, high winds, and below-freezing temperatures yesterday. It is warmer today, along with lower winds, but the temperature is still well below normal.

And to think I had planned to put the Official Weekend Pundit Lake Winnipesaukee Runabout, aka The Boat, into the water yesterday. The official launch has been postponed until next weekend.


Some of the stay-at-home restrictions in my home state end at midnight tonight and restaurants and bars that do not have outdoor seating are reopening, but under the condition that there be outdoor seating only.

In our town, the Town Powers That Be decided the affected bars/restaurants didn’t need to get permission to create temporary outdoor seating. The only stipulation for them doing so was making sure patrons and staff would be protected from vehicular traffic, there would be no impediment to traffic, and that fire safety requirements would be met.

We’re hoping all of the restrictions will be removed by Memorial Day weekend.


Could it be that universal use of facemasks and hand-washing along with isolation of the most vulnerable people is all that was needed to deal with this pandemic? Was the widespread lockdown imposed in the various states too over the top?

Seeing the infection patterns, the number of cases, and the protection taken (or not taken), it looks like to me like the lockdowns were not really effective. Hygiene and personal protective measures appear to be more effective than locking everyone away from everyone else and shutting down businesses.


I have to agree with this assessment of The Won:

Obama is a sanctimonious, arrogant, dangerous, viper.

He’s also a racist and suffers from delusions of adequacy. But that’s not important now.

What we need to understand is that Obama used the DOJ and the FBI (and the IRS) as his personal ‘hit squads’ to spy on and try to destroy his successor -Trump - and members of the new administration, as well as targeting conservative organizations that support Trump. In other words, he was a scumbag that used scumbag (and illegal) tactics to try to destroy someone he saw as unworthy to sit in the Oval Office. That’s rich, coming from someone who was never worthy to occupy the White House in the first place.


It turns out the media hates Trump for a good reason: He’s exposed them for the cheap mockery they are.

The media hasn’t received a fraction of the abuse it deserves.


And that’s the (abbreviated) news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where winter weather has returned, boat launchings have stalled, and where restaurants are re-opening.


Is The Aftermath Of Covid-19 Driving People To Leave Large Cities?

Will one of the aftereffects of the coronavirus pandemic be people moving out of large cities and their surrounding exurban areas to smaller suburban and rural areas? From personally gathered anecdotal evidence I’d have to say the answer to that question is yes.

I know that demand for homes up here in New Hampshire is high and inventory is low. From some of the realtors I know I have learned that a lot of that demand is being driven by folks “from away”, meaning folks from the Greater Boston area, Metro New York, and New Jersey. It isn’t vacation homes that many of these folks have been looking for (though the demand for vacation homes hasn’t diminished), but primary homes.

Then there’s this from a Rasmussen poll:

Pollsters often ask respondents what they expect to happen generally. When you look at the data by age, those between 18 and 44 hold that opinion at higher rates than the average.

This is particularly interesting because millennials, who are currently aged 24 to 39, have a well-documented preference for urban living. Yet in this survey, that age group says there will be an exodus from urban areas at rates of 44% and 47% respectively. Perhaps coronavirus has taught them that shuttling on a jam-packed human meat tube through an underground tunnel may have some downsides. While this pandemic has proven most dangerous to those over 65, that is not always true. Both H1N1 and the Spanish Flu had far higher mortality rates in the working-age population.


The pandemic has resulted in other changes that may make living outside the city more appealing. Economists predict the forced teleworking arrangements may outlast the pandemic. Companies that were slow to gravitate to work-from-home arrangements because of company culture or distrust have been forced to adopt the practice. Many are finding these arrangements are just as productive and can reduce their brick-and-mortar overhead costs. Amazon and Microsoft have already announced these polices will extend through October. As employers perfect these practices, it will help them attract talent by letting employees work from nearly anywhere. Commutes may be a thing of the past for many knowledge workers and call-center employees, allowing them to live where they prefer.

I know my employer has been seeing some of the advantages of work-from-home. It may affect my employer’s search for a new engineering facility. (Most of our production, repair, sales work, and shipping/receiving has moved to another facility leaving our present facility vastly underutilized.) If we can reduce our needs regarding our brick-and-mortar facilities, we can use a much smaller building than originally envisioned yet maintain our same level of staffing.

There are times when I prefer to work from home. I get more work done because I don’t have the distractions. There are times when I prefer to work at the office because that’s where our labs are. It isn’t like I have a long commute...unless I hit red at all 4 traffic lights between home and work. Then my commute can be 5 minutes longer than it otherwise would be. It’s a sacrifice I don’t mind making.


The Tie Between Vitamin D and Covid-19

There is growing evidence that Vitamin D deficiencies are playing a major role in the severity of Covid-19 cases and the number of deaths.

A suggestive set of numbers was published online in April by a medical scientist in the Philippines, Dr Mark Alipio. Of 49 patients with mild symptoms of Covid-19 in three hospitals in southern Asian countries, only two had low levels of vitamin D; of 104 patients with critical or severe symptoms, only four did not have low levels of vitamin D. The more severe the symptoms, the more likely a patient was to be not just low but deficient in the vitamin. Could vitamin D deficiency make the difference between getting very ill or not?

There has long been evidence that a sufficiency of vitamin D protects against viruses, especially respiratory ones, including the common cold. Vitamin D increases the production of antiviral proteins and decreases cytokines, the immune molecules that can cause a “storm” of dangerous inflammation. It has long been suspected that most people’s low vitamin D levels in late winter partly explain the seasonal peaking of flu epidemics, and rising vitamin D levels in spring partly explain their sudden ending. Vitamin D is made by ultraviolet light falling on the skin, so many people in northern climates have a deficiency by the end of winter. Eating fish and eggs helps, but it is hard to get enough of it in the diet.

Living in a northern clime is one reason why I take Vitamin D supplements starting in late fall and through mid to late spring. I’m outdoors enough the rest of the time that I am not concerned with a Vitamin D deficiency.

It has also been suggested that those who received MMR vaccinations are also less susceptible to Covid-19. Considering the number of people tested for coronavirus antibodies appears to be up to 85 times higher than the number of people testing positive for Covid-19, one has to wonder about the actual fatality rate of coronavirus. (The “85 times” number comes from a study the San Francisco Bay area.)

If the ratio of positive cases versus those with antibodies holds true, it signals to me two things:

First, the coronavirus has been in the US a lot longer than most have thought.

Second, Covid-19 didn’t really become prevalent until winter when people’s Vitamin D levels fell due to a lack of exposure to sunlight.

To quote Dennis Miller, “It’s just my opinion. I might be wrong.” But somehow I think there’s a strong link between the factors I’ve mentions above.