Biden claimed Facebook is killing people. Facebook’s response missed the point.

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On Friday, President Biden said social media platforms including Facebook are “killing people” with misinformation about COVID-19. Facebook’s response: “It’s not us, really.” Facebook’s statement is classic deflection; I’ll deconstruct it for you. On July 15, Vivek Murthy, the US Surgeon General, made a public statement about virus misinformation, which he called “an urgent threat … Continued

How tragic is the COVID-19 pandemic compared to other causes of death?

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Today I undertake a morbid and probably misguided analysis of the depth of the COVID-19 tragedy in America, examining the number of years of life lost. Trigger warning: this post discusses causes of death including suicide. Why would I undertake such a task? We are all reeling from the shocking numbers here. Half a million … Continued

The LA Times fumbles its coverage of the scary new Coronavirus strain

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A new, not very well understood strain of coronavirus is circulating in California. In its article about it, the LA Times did a very good job of combining fear and uncertainty into a confusing mix that creates more heat than light. Given the amount of misinformation spreading about the virus from conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers, … Continued

Calculating your Thanksgiving COVID-19 risk

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One of my correspondents posted recently that, rather than living in fear, he was having 13 or more people to Thanksgiving at his house. Liberals and health professionals would have you believe that is risky. But just how risky? We all do risk calculations every day. If cars are speeding by on a busy street, … Continued

The Rationalist Papers (14): The presidential COVID quiz

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While most Republicans believe Trump has handled the COVID-19 crisis as well as other wealthy countries, nearly all Democrats disagree. If you were in charge, could you have done better? Today we find out. Just a reminder: these Rationalist Papers posts are for the group I call the deciders: conservative, moderate, undecided, and third-party voters considering their … Continued

The Rationalist Papers (12): Living in fear

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Today’s column is a personal story. But it’s pretty relevant to what we’re all experiencing right now — both citizens and presidential candidates. Just a reminder: these Rationalist Papers posts are for the group I call the deciders: conservative, moderate, undecided, and third-party voters considering their choices in the 2020 US Presidential election. Until recently, I have … Continued

The Rationalist Papers (9): Trump, COVID, risk, and opportunity

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Donald Trump has announced that he and his wife have tested positive for COVID-19. I’ll look at the question of how we got to this point in the broader context of risk — and describe the unlikely opportunity it creates. Just a reminder: these Rationalist Papers posts are for the group I call the deciders: conservative, moderate, … Continued