Bad Arguments For Lockdowns & The Burden Of Proof. Also: US States Analysis

Bad Arguments For Lockdowns & The Burden Of Proof. Also: US States Analysis

The burden of proof that lockdowns work is clearly on those imposing and supporting lockdowns. Lockdown skeptics are under no obligation whatsoever to show lockdowns do not work.

Lockdowns are a burden, an imposition, a severe restriction of liberty. It is certain and indisputable that they cause harm. Therefore, if lockdown supporters cannot prove with something approaching certainty they work, then lockdowns cannot and should not be imposed.

Lockdown supporters know, as we all know, that lockdowns will and have thrown people out of work, will and have swollen welfare rolls, caused recessions or worse, led to suicides, delayed needed medical treatments, even caused death (NPR story of one case; when I showed this to one lockdown lover he wondered if this poor woman might have died from an obscure form of COVID-19 instead). Police have been ticketing and citing people for the “crimes” of playing soccer and sitting in parks. In Michigan, the Governor decreed that people could not travel between their homes.

Governments instituted lockdowns in an arbitrary and capricious manner, and they have given no indication what objective verifiable criteria will be used to lift them. In truth, the criteria will be the same as those used to institute them: when politicians think they will no longer be blamed for the virus causing deaths. Fear drives the crisis in our leaders just as much as it does in citizens.

This is why when I showed this graph below, I said we could not conclude from it that lockdowns work. It may be, as some critics are saying, that I cannot prove lockdowns don’t work from this graph. I do not have to. I have no such obligation.

Other say that this graph doesn’t account for population density (as if no-lockdown Tokyo, Taipei and Rio aren’t dense), or obesity, age, sex, smoking status, weather, lockdown timing and severity, and anything else. Well, I said as much. (The graph does in a weak way say something about population density, but forget it.)

I said that the only way to tell that lockdowns worked was to gather all possible data on cause, including lockdown status (it’s timing, severity, compliance at the individual level from those that died, and from a good sample of those that didn’t, see just what, exactly, killed, and what did not kill. This is not impossible. But it hasn’t happened, and almost certainly won’t, not worldwide. Oh, we’ll see lots of BS stats studies, with wee p-values aplenty. But none of it, I predict, will reach the level of proof.

The only claim I make is that is certain is you cannot conclude from this data that lockdowns worked.

Now, before I had a chance to go through it, WJ Keller sent me data from Oxford, which claims to have quantified the unquantifiable in a much better fashion that I. It only look at 166 countries, whereas we did over 200. But they do much more with theirs, looking at timing for various restrictions in liberties (school and business closings, house arrest, and a few other loosey goosey things, but no population size!). These, like my Y/N measure, are all at the country level.

I can tell you right now this new data won’t prove lockdowns work. We have already seen, just in decrepit Europe alone, that Belgium, UK, Andorra, Spain, Italy, and France, all locked down, had higher mortality rates than Sweden, with Belgium being more than twice as high. Taiwan did not lock down, but did bar travel in and out to some extent, and had only 7 deaths. None of the measures Oxford used can “correct” these differences.

Another criticism (from a PhD professor at big place) said the data can’t be trusted, not everywhere. Too true! I pointed out to him that you can’t move from “I have bad data” to “I know lockdowns work based on data”. He disappeared. Another soy-faced PhD economist said the analysis “disgusted” him, then he blocked me on Twitter, presumably to prevent further dyspepsia.

Another bad argument is that a majority agreed, and still agree, to willingly to have their movements restricted. This is absurd, because they could have locked their own selves down and let the minority who wanted to remain at liberty be free. But, no. The majority agreed to remove everyone’s liberty, in the belief that they themselves would be protected. Fear rules.

That they majority agree does not make the elimination of liberty good or legal. Might in arms or through show of hands does not make right, though many living in democracies are accustomed to thinking it does, since so much is put to a vote. To say that a majority makes something good or evil is an obvious fallacy.

The usual argument in favor of lockdowns runs like this: We know lockdowns work because lockdowns work, which is why we locked down, because if we didn’t lock down it would have been worse. It’s science.

Lockdowns have known costs, but unproved benefits. Some say that we had to lock down to “flatten the curve”, and because we locked down therefore the curve was flattened. This is a circular argument. It is just another way of saying “lockdowns work because lockdowns work.” It still has to be proved lockdowns flatten curves, and that flattening curves is good.

A response to that, given by some, is to say “It’s obvious lockdowns flatten curves”, to which we reply “It’s obvious they do not.” This is a futile discussion.

A better response is to say “Lockdowns force people inside and lessen their contact with others, therefore limiting the spread of the virus.” This is countered by “Lockdowns force healthy and sick into tight quarters, therefore enhancing the spread of the virus.” This is true, too, at least in the US, because the form of the lockdowns were to throw people, younger and healthier on average, in small businesses out of work, and force them to stay home, sometimes with older relatives, who are of course older and unhealthier on average. It also allowed people out for limited times, to shop for groceries and the like, and then forced them back inside.

Stores owned by oligarchs were allowed to remain open. This implies the virus, as many joked, could tell the difference between Costco, which wasn’t locked down, and (say) a small jewelers, which was forced to close. The virus didn’t dare infect Costco shoppers, but those searching for wedding rings would have dropped dead on the spot.

The answer to the jewelry stores is to say any limitation of human contact, short of causing people to starve, helped in limiting spread of the virus. This is another way of saying lockdowns work because lockdowns work. It is far from clear allowing “essential” businesses to remain open and the forced closing (or other disruptions) of “inessential” businesses made any difference whatsoever to the spread of the virus.

Some said things like this: “increased spread of virus causes countries to respond with lockdowns, not lockdowns cause increased spread”. This is another way of saying lockdowns work because lockdowns work. The virus did not cause any government to lockdown: politicians caused lockdowns based on the beliefs that lockdowns spared live—and saved political reputations.

Now it may be the case that, overall, lockdowns did somewhere slow and even in places stopped the spread of the virus. This is nowhere proved, but it is a possibility. We do not claim this never happened, but if it did, the lockdown still has to be judged by its successes and its harms.

Andrew Cuomo in full-pander mode infamously and said in March that if his dictatorial orders “saved just one life, then it will be worth it.” This is false, since the lockdowns caused at least some deaths, with some evidence pointing to many deaths. Death in any case is only one “metric”. It cannot be the only one, or else we would ban driving. The whole of the cost of the lockdown must be compared with the demonstrated, and not just asserted, benefit.

There are some who point to graphs showing infection counts with indicators when lockdowns begin, then claiming the infection counts immediately decrease. Cases are caused by the virus spreading, and the virus would have already spread before the lockdown was imposed. There is no chance actual cases would have immediately dropped after a lockdown, only some time after.

The confusion comes because cases are only noted when measured. A lockdown can certainly cause measurements to decrease, as people decide not to go and get tested. Because of this, the only way to measure the effect of a lockdown is to count illness and deaths, and then prove these would have been greater without the lockdown.

It’s not that it is impossible to do this. It’s that nobody has done it. Many have asserted it, but, not to bore you, but this is just saying lockdowns work because lockdowns work.

It’s not just me! Calling it like it is: “Many lockdown regulations were seemingly thumb sucks.” From South Africa.


I got to these too late to add to the main lockdown post.

In the US, eight states never locked down. They were, with deaths per million (as of 17 May, using the COVID Tracking Project’s numbers): Iowa (111), Oklahoma (73), Nebraska (64), North Dakota (56), South Dakota (50), Arkansas (32), Utah (25), and Wyoming (14). Be careful with these numbers, as they are stated in relative terms. Wyoming, for example, has about 580 thousand souls, and had only 8 coronavirus deaths.

The states with the harshest lockdowns were California (83), Illinois (330), Michigan (490), New York (1162), New Jersey (1166).

It’s obvious that there are many more differences between states than lockdown status (here’s a full list, using different data sources; same story, though). But it’s also plain that there is no way, none at all, to claim using these comparisons that lockdowns were successful.

Since almost all of California’s deaths were in the LA area (though the entire massive state was officially locked down), most deaths in Illinois were in the Chicago area, Michigan’s around Detroit, and New York and New Jersey’s around the New York City metropolitan area, it’s very likely population density played a role. Which argues against lockdowns, since everybody had to be cooped up in tight quarters.

So sure were experts and journalists sure that lockdowns were necessary, and could not be relaxed until who knows what happened, that predictions of doom and gloom for states reinstituting liberty are a staple of the news. The New York Times trotted out “models” which “Project Sharp Rise in Deaths as States Reopen”. That the previous models they relied upon to preach the apocalypse failed did not deter them from using them again.

The fabulously flawed Fauci wrung his hands together and warned “consequences could be really serious” if states opened before he gave them permission. Other journalists had to be satisfied with noting cases increased in Texas after they “relaxed” their anti-liberty measures. Well, cases can go to 0 if no tests are made, or they can rocket if testing increases. This is why what counts are deaths and hospitalizations and the like. These did not increase in Texas.

The most hysterical predictions were saved for Georgia, because they were one of the first states to restore stolen liberties. Experts and pundits were sure this was the end. This is why some of them took to reporting, not new deaths, but total deaths. Total deaths can only increase, even as rates drop to zero. But publicizing that increase is a good way to boost fear. A model touted by CNN at the end of April said deaths could double! Sadly for the doomsayers, Georgia’s death rate continued to fall.

There was almost no reporting on states which did not remove liberty from its citizens. Except early on, when each new death was blazoned across every screen journalists could get their greasy fingers on. This is probably partly due to dishonesty. Most journalists gave up on honesty a long time ago, justifying the means of lying in their saving-the-world ends. But it’s also muleheadedness. The experts were so sure they were right, they refused to look at data proving them wrong.

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Update This is twitter thread in answer to the bad comments and emails I received. Cut and paste what you like, because all my tweets die in 7 days from coronavirus (not a joke).


  1. JR Ewing

    My favorite panic-heads are the ones who act like ANY death is proof of the catastrophe. They take the breathless death counts at face value without any sort of context.

    “FOUR people died from the covid in Houston yesterday.”

    “Did you know that 60 people die in Houston on average every single day from all causes? What about the other 56? What about the 60 who died yesterday and the 60 who will die tomorrow? Are people dying because they are already sick from something else? Were the people who died old or young? What’s the context of those four deaths?”

    “THIS IS SERIOUS! You’re just being selfish while people die!”

  2. JR Ewing

    Also, Briggs, excellent point about the tests. Everyone knows that the case counts are up because testing is up, but it’s a great logical rebuttal to point out that we can easily reduce the case count to zero by NOT TESTING.

    I made a comment on another blog about how Germany’s per capita fatality rate is lower than the United States, potentially because Germany is being more judicious in how it classifies deaths whereas the USA is admittedly inflating counts.

    One hooplehead responded, “But Germany is being too strict! They are almost certainly UNDERCOUNTING by not including estimates.”

    That’s the exact same logic as “lockdowns work because they work”.

    “Covid deaths counts must be higher than measured because we know that it kills a lot of people.”

  3. Mask use by the general public, at this point, is simply virtue signaling. The virus isn’t going away anytime soon. It will just mutate into slightly different forms and keep propagating.

    Are you willing to wear a mask forever? Why, when you did not wear a mask for the 2018 flu season, which killed 80,000 Americans?

    If you’re not willing to wear a mask forever, why are you wearing it today?

  4. Spetzer86

    Who was the gal at the end of the impeachment hearings who was snarking at all the right wing loonies that didn’t want to live check and jowl with everyone else in large cities? Right wingers obviously have a health thing going and know disease runs rampant in large populated areas.

  5. Sheri

    McChuck: China just had a new outbreak, apparently while wearing those great masks.

    “The burden of proof that lockdowns work is clearly on those imposing and supporting lockdowns. Lockdown skeptics are under no obligation whatsoever to show lockdowns do not work.” Good luck with that. I have explained that over and over yet still, the AGW crowd and the Covid crowd cannot grasp the concept. Both groups, Covid and AGW, are so STUPID they insist on proving a negative. They probably divid by zero, too.

    Your NPR listener is common—people refuse to change their thought patterns, even when drowning in the middle of a lake. They’ll convince themselves there must be a shelf that will catch and save them, right up to that last breath when no magical shelf appears and their lungs fill with water. After all, legends say the shelf is there and legends are always right…..

    Yep, we flattened the curve, which the stupid sheep thought would save lives. And now the disease continues on at a lower level, which is EXACTLY what we were told would happen. It’s what “flatten the curve” means. So, the stupid sheep are still prisoners because they thought flatten the curve meant the disease would be over.

    “Stores owned by oligarchs were allowed to remain open. This implies the virus, as many joked, could tell the difference between Costco, which wasn’t locked down, and (say) a small jewelers, which was forced to close.” You know, just like the virus KNEW blue states from red states and infected blue states first and the worst. These are very, very clever viruses. Or very, very stupid people.

    Population density was also affected by income level. Those in population dense areas that could afford to stay home and have everything delivered had lower death rates. (No comments on the “fairness” of this—it’s just a fact without any judgement attached.)

    Yes, Wyoming had only 8 deaths, five from the Northern Arapaho tribe, three from the same family. Now, statistically analyze that one. What I usually get is racist nasty comments about the tribes, but there are important lessons in this that our blindness and stupidity are keeping us from seeing. Reminds me of “The Three Blind” mice nursery song.

  6. John Bacon

    To McChuck:

    > Mask use by the general public, at this point, is simply virtue signaling.

    There was a study out just yesterday indicating (as it has been shown before) the effectiveness of masks at reducing transmission:

    > If you’re not willing to wear a mask forever, why are you wearing it today?

    Because in addition to wanting to wait until effective treatment (or a vaccine) is in place, it matters how many people are sick at once. The more people sick at once, the bigger the strain on the medical system.

    I honestly can’t believe you wrote the right things above. You seem like a smart guy from your short comment but this feels so ignorant to me. Calling wearing a mask “virtue signaling” is shameful.

  7. Joy

    Dear Briggs,
    Why is it always the dichotomy, framed and reframed them and us?
    Please write a nice letter to Boris Johnson who WILL listen.
    Copy it to Dominic Cummings and Patrick valance. The former (DC), is looking for recruits, however non PC but that was supposed to be a secret You could work from home!
    Clearly nobody sensible is going to agree with the following:

    “The usual argument in favour of lockdowns runs like this: We know lockdowns work because lockdowns work, which is why we locked down, because if we didn’t lock down it would have been worse. It’s science.”
    Glad I don’t have to put up with living under such a monstrous tyranny as some of the US states feel they are, even though they’re mostly doing what they like in rural areas! And so would I.
    It’s easy to assume that your opponent is meaner than your worst motives. Generally it’s not the case. “it’s well to weigh the enemy more mighty than he is’”. If you’re at war.

    Starting to see now why it is so important to make the UK out to be wrong in its approach…
    This is true:
    “Now it may be the case that, overall, lockdowns did somewhere slow and even in places stopped the spread of the virus. This is nowhere proved, but it is a possibility. We do not claim this never happened, but if it did, the lockdown still has to be judged by its successes and its harms.”
    It is/was over here and it’s not over yet.

    Another thought experiment:
    What would it be like (will it be like) when the situation arises that cynicism or loss of moral reaches the level where staff simply refuse to save lives or to take the risks; to put up with the abuse and the Ingratitude of people who know better how to hold their temper; “letting the dice fall where they may” and thinking someone will be at the hospital to dig them out of their septic hole?
    Rerun the experiment enough times and people will be left to suffer and drown in their own secretions. Nobody to administer kindness, to reduce your work of breathing, let alone oxygen.
    The army will come to the rescue. Which they did. They always put their boots where their mouth is.
    (See Spain where one can home was abandoned by staff. )

  8. Michael Dowd

    Purposes served by the lockdowns:
    —Democrat administrative competence on public display.
    —Found to be harmful to the economy.
    —Quite possible are also harmful to health.

  9. Ken

    I’m not so sure the conclusion that lockdowns don’t work to curtail Covid virus spread is quite correct (not do I intend to suggest that conclusion wrong either).

    What is a “lockdown”?

    That core detail matters. First principle is to define terms.

    Given that states took similar but not identical precautions and curtailments of constitutional rights, and, their demographic situations varied considerably from generally social distanced as normal to close packed populations, seems like what we have is metadata masquerading as homogenous and directly comparable.

    “Lockdown” has been bandied about as if people were significantly limiting interactions that would curtail the spread of this virus. Emphasis is on person to person, but touching objects (like doorknobs) goes understated or ignored (but not by those two Drs in CA, for example). As we know, and any objective person can independently identify numerous avenues for this virus’ spread even under “lockdown” conditions – “essential buss activity guaranteed some spreading …and if not …. can spot numerous instances of identified infections popping up where they ought not have been able under “lockdown” conditions. If those places were “locked down” that ought not have been possible.

    If a “ lockdown” means people are sequestered from each other and do not interact it must succeed against a virus that is not shared by widespread & distant traveling ‘aerosols.’ As Covid supposedly isn’t(?).

    Thus, when Briggs says the data shows ‘lockdowns don’t work’ I see something slightly different:

    “Lockdowns” as I understand the term to include some rigor-real discipline at sequestering people from people, for the most part did not happen across society. If done right this could not possibly have not made a difference.

    Instead what happened is a particularly economically expensive form of risk mitigation theater.

    And many of us were/are forced actors in this political tour de force drama.

    Hindsight may show that this play had as a key underlying plot theme – that the more disruptive to society I as a ruling politician make it the more I can claim to have worked to take care of you citizens. And many of you are buying into that caretaking blather (and human nature being what it is, the greater the burden the more you/they want to justify the expense as worthwhile). Of course many, hopefully most see past the stated intent and see the contradictions in what is deemed essential and how that guarantees virus spread, and, the political valuation in weighing “essential” rather than objective criteria. Political ignorance & stupidity played their part, as have some rather naked political power grabs & brinksmanship aimed at individual selfish political gain.

    Again, if we really did “lockdowns” they should work. Broadly, we did not and calling them “lockdowns” abuses the term by inferring measures that never really happened (my opinion).

    We should call what’s been done what it is — mitigation theater.

  10. greg

    That hamster study referenced by Mr Bacon that is supposed to show the effectiveness of masks is exactly the kind of medical research that gives the medical community a bad reputation. I looked up the original article because I was curious if the researchers actually used little masks on the hamsters. Of course they didn’t do that but instead used a filter as a wall between cages. As might be expected, a wall was effective at preventing infection as even the thinest material will be able to stop the normal flow of air currents. However, a face filter will have air passing though the filter due to the force of breathing. This hamster study really didn’t prove anything except that walls are effective at preventing infection.

  11. Sheri

    John Bacon: I ask again, if masks work so well, why is China, king of mask wearing, having another large outbreak? Why did Korea and Japan have such problems. Both countries tended toward mask wearing, which seems to have done nothing whatsoever.

    Ken: Have you seen any real cases where Covid came from touching a box? It’s theoretical. Your bathroom has ecoli bacteria everywhere (no matter how hard you try to remove all of it) yet you aren’t hospitalized repeatedly for ecoli infections, are you? Simply having the virus on a box does not mean that is a means of infection. Nor does it in any way tell us what the concentration of virus would be necessary to cause an infection. Life’s full of bacteria and viruses, yet somehow we live on.

  12. I’m sure the hamsters had many issues adjusting and readjusting their cloth homemade masks, and being confined in a cage where disease ridden air is being directed at your face is exactly the same as walking through a supermarket.

  13. Ye Olde Statistician

    In statistics it is vital that data from different sources be measured or counted in the same way if they are to be compared or combined. Which makes this, from Strategt Page dot com, interesting:

    “Russia … does not automatically classify each death in which the deceased had covid19 as a covid19 death. Most covid19 deaths are people who already have other serious health problems and covid19 comes along and becomes one too many. Russian medical statistics rank the medical problems that cause death and give the main one as the “cause.” Often there are multiple causes of death, especially among the most common covid19 victims; the elderly and chronically ill.”
    The Madness Continues
    A recent pop-up ad for a computer murder mystery game featured three avatar suspects and a detective. All of them were wearing medical face masks.??

  14. Kalif

    “…In statistics it is vital that data from different sources be measured or counted in the same way if they are to be compared or combined…”

    True that.
    Let’s take a look what CDC says of ‘common flu’ counts in any given year:

    “… because not all deaths related to influenza occur in the hospital, we use death certificate data to estimate how likely deaths are to occur outside the hospital. We look at death certificates that have pneumonia or influenza causes (P&I), other respiratory and circulatory causes (R&C), or other non-respiratory, non-circulatory causes of death, because deaths related to influenza may not have influenza listed as a cause of death. We use information on the causes of death from FluSurv-NET to determine the mixture of P&I, R&C, and other coded deaths to include in our investigation of death certificate data. Finally, once we estimate the proportion of influenza-associated deaths that occurred outside of the hospital, we can estimate the deaths-to-hospitalization ratio…”

    As my former professor (RIP) would say: ‘Cite your source or drop the course’

    Remember, people don’t die OF flu, they die WITH flu 😉

  15. Kalif

    “…Mask use by the general public, at this point, is simply virtue signaling. The virus isn’t going away anytime soon. It will just mutate into slightly different forms and keep propagating…”

    Only if you are the only person wearing it. The idea is that transmission is reduced one-way mostly, by protecting others (that’s why CDC recommends sneezing into your elbow for any air-transmissible disease), but if everyone wears it, most transmission will be reduced. Even half-effective, when scaled-up, the benefits are very obvious.
    The best research on masks comes from various industries, where they measure actual particle size. That level of precision is good because they deal with deadly toxic fumes and anything but 100% protection won’t cut it, but does not imply there is no protection at a large scale, if the mask is only partially effective (surgical masks or cloth covering). The size of the virus is irrelevant. What it travels on (droplet/aerosol size) is. Another thing is viral load and exposure time, both of which are helped by wearing some sort of protection, but only if most are doing it. If your mask reduces viral load, the symptoms are likely to be milder (it’s not on/off when it comes to infections).

    Some sources:
    N95 history:
    (I didn’t know about bra-mask connection)

    To be fair, when the whole thing started, many CDC officials didn’t recommend masks, but probably only in comparison to a full lock-down. Now, that we have to open (and because there is a lack of N95s), even surgical masks worn at a large enough scale should help reduce the transmission somewhat.

    Considering that people spend enormous amounts of time/money on various headwear (hats, wigs), eyewear(glasses, contacts), earwear (headphones, ear-rings), shoes, clothing, make-up, tatoos, etc. (and even dare to refer to some of it as ‘fashion’), is adding a 1oz mask really a problem, even if marginally effective?

  16. Rudolph Harrier

    Wearing plastic gloves which are replaced every two hours will probably also help slow the spread of the disease. I have no idea how much it will help, but surely it will do at least a LITTLE. So why not require everyone to wear gloves at all time?

    And eyes are sensitive to infections, so why not require everyone wear goggles at all times as well? Surely that would also prevent at least a few cases.

    One of the easiest ways for viruses to be expelled into the air is when people are talking to each other. So maybe we should only communicate by writing or typing on smart phones, to reduce the spread through the air. Surely that will save at least one life!

  17. Fredo

    A big factor in the acceptance of the lock downs were the early references
    to the Wuhan P-4 labs proximity to the out break. Though this was for
    the most part played down in main stream media the possibility that this
    had been engineered in a lab went viral, (no pun intended), at an almost
    subconscious level, and fear was transmitted to large segments of the
    population. This was enacted in China on a grand scale never before
    seen and lock down logic inevitably followed. At the time the unknowns
    far outweighed what was known and the public was led off the cliff with
    all the sensationalist headlines in mass media. a virus in and of itself.

    The central issue of the virus’s origin I think has been laid to rest with
    the observations of Dr. Montaginer who unequivocally states the virus
    is man made and contains the genetic fingerprint of a segment of the
    HIV virus impossible to have occurred in nature. The immediate and
    voluble denials and refutations by principals involved in the funding,
    administration, and staffing of these bio weapons labs is telling, their
    association with companies involved in the manufacture of vaccines
    and various biological patents is also telling.

    As such the lock downs may have been the most logical course of
    action at the time but have been extended beyond any reasonable
    expectation given the data that emerged in late March and early
    April that demonstrated a death rate equivalent to a bad seasonal flu.

    The focus should now be on these labs and the deadly research they
    are conducting in violation of the Nuremberg Convention. Personally
    I’ll keep my mask on when out in public given the origin and remaining
    unknowns of this pathogen. Ironic or criminal that the doors of our
    nursing homes were thrown open to infect and kill the most vulnerable
    population. Tells you all you really need to know about the people in
    charge of the lock down.

  18. Amateur Brain Surgeon

    Dear Briggs. Your efforts during this panic have been admirable. You are one hard working bastid. Its too bad so few are paying attention.

    Thank you for all of your work

  19. Josh Postema

    “There was a study out just yesterday indicating (as it has been shown before) the effectiveness of masks at reducing transmission”

    Did you read the “study”?

    “Fifty-two hamsters were used in the tests, which were carried out under three scenarios designed to replicate real-life situations: with mask barriers placed only on cages that held infected subjects; with partitions placed only on the uninfected side; and with no partition at all.”

    Oh yes, “real life situations”, like where you have a wall of masks dividing you from other people, or “real life situations” like being a hamster and climbing on top of fellow hamsters.

    This study is a joke.

    “Because in addition to wanting to wait until effective treatment (or a vaccine) is in place, it matters how many people are sick at once. The more people sick at once, the bigger the strain on the medical system.”

    There was never a strain. There was never going to be a strain. They sent hospital ships away in the hardest city hit in the country.

    It is impossible to take anyone seriously who still thinks “flatten the curve” is a goal of any of this.

    “I honestly can’t believe you wrote the right things above. You seem like a smart guy from your short comment but this feels so ignorant to me. Calling wearing a mask “virtue signaling” is shameful.”

    Virtue signalling is shameful, and wearing a mask is virtue signalling. Your feelings don’t make someone ignorant for saying so.

  20. Andrew Worth

    Voluntary measures have flattened the rates of transmission in the states you mention but there hasn’t been a dramatic drop as there has been in many states that have done lock-downs.
    Looking at the wider picture, if a doctor prescribes a medicine and the patient refuses to take the medicine the medicine won’t work, but for the patient to then blame the doctor and the medicine is insanity.
    Where lock-downs have been adhered to by the populations; Norway, Denmark, New Zealand, Croatia, Czechia, many other countries the rate of transmission has collapsed, if Americans are too ornery to take their medicine it’s no surprise the medicine does not work.

  21. Dan Hughes

    Heterogeneity is the rule. Homogeneity the exception.

  22. Rudolph Harrier


    What’s your evidence that lockdowns were adhered to more stringently in Norway, Denmark, New Zealand, etc.?

  23. HarryG

    But Briggs. Lockdowns do work. Haven’t you noticed how effective they have been in trashing economies?

  24. Joy

    Ken is correct about mixing data sources and not defining terms.

    It’s been said many times What is meant by lockdown? Same for the God argument, ironically.

    The term is mitigation. Like bailing out a boat. You don’t stop because it’s not as affective as the bilge pump. You carry on until the situation changes. Some are making the perfect the enemy of the good.

    As to the question about the degree of effect. It is not necessary to completely stop all movement in order to stem the flow of viral spread. The spread is slowed to a pace which services can manage. Whether or not those services are paid by private individuals or public institutions. Makes no difference. There is a small amount of reseeding which results, obviously.

    Individual household units become the reservoirs. Those run their course. That is the method.
    Not the unintended consequence as the article implies.

    Public must be informed properly if they are to enter into the contract with the rest of their state/Nation/town. Those who refuse to comply are a smaller number, and simply add a some to the household reservoirs involved in those cases.

    Theatre of politics is ever present.
    There’s also a play on the words ‘proof’ and ‘evidence’ but hey it doesn’t matter by today’s rules of philosophy! That’s just semantics!

    So it is how the argument is framed that counts. Agree on the premises. Find the points of agreement then see where the divergence happens. Also no use inputting new information after the fact and insisting it should have been factored in. Hindsight is wise after the event, aka cheating.
    Regarding masks:
    The argument i now at least fifteen years old. There’s the theatre. Our politicians have almost given up saying they don’t help stop spread effectively. Now they’re caving in to please people and saying it will help with public confidence. Wear it in an enclosed space (I agree, people do like to cough at you.)
    Best way to please the media, tell them they can if they want to. Just don’t use precious supplies of medical grade masks.

    Regarding ecoli:
    The bug is deadly if it infects wounds or if ingested in sufficient quantity. It’s not a good idea to leave the bathroom uncleaned for precisely that reason. Bacteria and viruses are different beasts, too.

  25. Briggs


    Many comments went to spam today. This is because I got 110 (no typo) traceback spam comments from various and different crypto and bitcoin auto-sites, all at around the same time. This happens from time to time and shows you most content on the web is BS.

  26. Uncle Mike

    When President Trump mentioned hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for Red Chinese Commie virus, the fabulous Fauci said the supporting data was “anecdotal”. And that for him, the fabulous Public Health Czar, to recommend HCQ first there must be a double-blind randomized clinical study with placebo arms.

    So, following the Logic of the Public Health Scientist Extraordinaire, before we can conclude that incarceration of the general public for months on end, with the concomitant strangulation of the economy, will result in a benefit to Public Health, there must be a double-blind randomized longitudinal CONTROLLED clinical study with placebo arms.

    Otherwise, the PROOF is totally lacking, entirely anecdotal, skewed by subjective wish-casting and political motivations, and nothing like Science, not even close.

    DO YOU HEAR ME DR. FAUCI AND GOVERNOR DEATH????? Anecdotal at best, and NOT SCIENCE!!!!!!! Before we take your medicine, you must PROVE it works. Otherwise we must conclude that you and your ilk are a two-faced lying double-talking quack frauds and probably much worse.

  27. Joy

    Last comment before I go.
    I thought Trump’s decision to take the malaria medicines I thought it was a fabulous move. Can’t say why or it might give the media ideas and I KNOW they read my comments…hang on my every word.
    They quote me all the time.

  28. Uncle Mike

    Joy, please don’t read the following. It’s kind of strong rhetoric which you should eschew, so avert your gaze:

    By “probably much worse” I was thinking of Fascistic Gov. Death who stuffed Covid-positive virus shedders into nursing homes which resulted in the Mass Murder of thousands of the most vulnerable people.

    IMHO he should be Nuremberged, found guilty, and hung in Times Square where passers-by could spit on his dangling corpse. But that’s just my opinion. I suspect his swasticated brown-shirted evil minions would disagree. They heart mass murder. It’s their thing. They want Gov. Death to be President, which will NEVER happen.

  29. Bill_R

    Not all experiments get published.

    Dick, E. C., C. K. Meschievitz, W. J. Raynor, S. B. Schultz, and S. L. Inhorn. “Interruption of rhinovirus common cold transmission among human volunteers by use of a virucidal facial tissue [abstract no. 91b].” In Program and abstractrs of the 24th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. Washington, DC: American Society for Microbiology. 1984.


    Dick, Elliot C., Shafi U. Hossain, Kathy A. Mink, Carlton K. Meschievitz, Sandra B. Schultz, William J. Raynor, and Stanley L. Inhorn. “Interruption of transmission of rhinovirus colds among human volunteers using virucidal paper handkerchiefs.” The Journal of infectious diseases 153, no. 2 (1986): 352-356.

  30. Andrew Worth

    Rudolph Harrier,–-new-poll/ar-BB1348DS
    87% of New Zealanders approve of the way the government is responding to the Coronavirus pandemic.
    53% of Americans approve of the way the government is responding to the Coronavirus pandemic.

    In other source:
    86% of Danes approve of their governments handling of the crisis.
    75% of Czechs support government measures.

    I’ve seen a lot of hostility to their lock-down from the American right, but nothing like the same level of hostility in those other countries.
    I think that the US right has the integrity to practice what it preaches, and certainly many are claiming that they are putting their words into practice. You might argue that they’re full of hot air, that they’re not following the practices and calls of their President, but I’m sure they do have the courage to practice their convictions.

  31. Sanford

    Just a typo:

    “That they majority agree does not make the elimination of liberty good or legal.”

    I think you meant “That the…”

  32. To anyone who thinks that any sequence seen can only be from a lab versus the rest of nature has little to no idea how much variability there is and how much the biological world works to maintain sequences that work in the very messy and variable real world. Viruses exist to make sure that no sequence is ever lost (semi sarcastic).

    There is no chemical that man can make that the rest of nature can’t. There is no chemical that the rest of nature makes that man can’t.

  33. C-Marie

    Lockdowns actually work to greatly lessen the “herd” immunity. Yikes!! Some will die of the virus, and most will not. Masks may somewhat keep others’ and our own results of sniffles, etc. from reaching the air space of our own and that of others.

    As the scientists are working to produce the vaccine for corona virus, let us all consider whether we would ourselves and/or allow our children to be vaccinated with a batch that was made from using aborted (read murdered) unborn fetus parts, the baby taken piece by piece from the mother’s womb with, in nearly all cases, her permission.

    Some of the vaccines for corona virus will be made using animal fetus parts. That would be moral for most of us and maybe all, depending on a person’s religion.

    Yes, I know. Many vaccines have been made from the aborted fetuses. I did not and perhaps most did not, know this. Now we do know, and must use that informational possibility.

    According to wikipedia…”Most vaccines currently available were developed using cell strains cultured from two fetuses aborted for other purposes in the 1960s.[3]This has led some to oppose vaccination on religious or moral grounds.[1][2] However, vaccine experts and manufacturers state that vaccines do not contain any of the original fetal tissue or cells, that the abortions occurred decades ago and replenishment with new tissue has not occurred. ”

    So, very difficult to say, but it seems, having those would be all right, but now we know, so let us not use their parts today, use animal parts instead.

    God bless, C-Marie

  34. Rick Clayderman

    Dear Dr. Briggs,
    Your work has been superb on this issue from the beginning, thank you, sir!

    Fascinating to me how the Left-Right divide opens wide on the Covid issue — rather demonstrates the Conflict of Visions (Thomas Sowell, 1987) and the unbridgeable gap in the two worldviews (Dennis Prager,

    Have you seen Jeffrey A. Tucker’s trenchant article:

    Tucker’s piece provides a lot of insights consistent with your and my shared views.

    Interesting, too, is how willingly the Left deploys its regular tools — lies and disinformation — on a matter that should be dispassionate science.

  35. “Another soy-faced PhD economist said the analysis “disgusted” him, then he blocked me on Twitter, presumably to prevent further dyspepsia.”

    Was is Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s right-hand man, who said that any organization with an economist on their books is an organization with one employee too many.


  36. Joy

    I’m biased,
    Given that Statistics can’t prove cause., they can only show correlations, it seems irregular for a good Dr, who taught that, to say that one side is falling short on specifically those grounds. There are many in media and politics who are making false claims about what can be proved and what science “says” as if it has a voice. Is this some kind of tortuous teaching tool?

    There may be a lot of criticism of all sorts and different values attributed to different action but statistics is not the answer to demonstrating all over again, how viruses work and spread.
    That is already known. In particular about respiratory viruses.

    Action taken in one situation obviously needs be different than elsewhere. To claim that there is NO value in locking down or more strict measures in given situations is ideological. It is correct that if the greatest value/right, of all is freedom above all else, regardless if that means massive death then what can anyone say except I don’t agree.

    Prevention of the known mechanisms of viral spread DOES what it says on the tin. No proof of that is required.

    The argument is about what constitutes a lockdown and how much is sufficient. For most people it seems to be “If I’m alright Jack” that’s all that. matters. Who can argue with that?

    I note the very careful language by our science advisory team who appear on a daily basis. They don’t say ‘this proves that’. They say “this correlates very nicely with…”
    They also list death numbers as those having died and tested positive for Covid. Never have they claimed that they all died from covid. That is the conjecture and projection of media.

    Dr Fauci is a disappointing expert choice. Trump is stuck with him now, to some extent. Fauci is a terrible communicator, (which often looks deliberate) aside from his awful voice which is distracting to the point that obscures his important message. Voice coaching or speech therapy would be helpful, maybe surgery. If he is so friendly with the media branch of the democratic party and he cares so much, he could have spoken on behalf of Donald Trump a lot better. Could have averted much of the silly feigned shock and horror caused by media misinterpretation.

    State governors have been playing push me pull you with the responsibility and the power. Voters can tell the difference.

    Lockdowns work! If lockdown means what I say it means! Not what you say it means.
    So there!

  37. Grima Squeakersen

    Does anyone else see a strong resemblance between Dr. Fasci and Jack Kevorkian? More to the point, most MDs are not research scientists, nor are they epidemiological statisticians, nor are they medical device engineers. They are practitioners of the medical arts employed to try to improve the condition of those who are ill. At best, they may be able to make useful comments on issues in the aforementioned fields as qualified laymen, informed by their knowledge of treating patients. The fact that the media are treating the MDs who support the exercise of mindless and limitless State authority in the name of mitigating COVID-19 (or can be misquoted or otherwise manipulated to appear to offer that support) as last-word subject matter experts in all things virus- related is irrefutable evidence of complete and total depravity on the part of said media. Unsurprisingly, many MDs have out-sized egos and are eager to play along. But as long as the media are selling the pretense that MDs are at least borderline omniscient, shouldn’t they give equal time to the over 600 physicians who have signed this report unequivocally condemning the lock-down because of its dire medical consequences, and terming it a “mass casualty incident”?


    “We are alarmed at what appears to be the lack of consideration for the future health of our patients… The downstream health effects … are being massively under-estimated and underreported. This is an order of magnitude error…
    In medical terms, the shutdown was a mass casualty incident. The millions of casualties of a continued shutdown will be hiding in plain sight, but they will be called alcoholism, homelessness, suicide, heart attack, stroke, or kidney failure. In youths it will be called financial instability, unemployment, despair, drug addiction, unplanned pregnancies, poverty, and abuse.”

  38. Brandon

    I always felt from the beginning the lockdowns were severely impeding on peoples’ rights. It’s especially true that the way people are treated is that of being guilty until proven innocent. It is assumed that everybody might have the virus, therefor we all have to act like we have the virus. People are being punished because viruses are doing damage to people. Why are the people to blame? And why are we guilty of spreading the virus when most of us don’t have it? It seems unreasonable to require face masks for everybody, since there should be a burden of proof to show that each person being required to wear the masks has the virus. But they skip the burden of proof and jump straight to everybody’s guilty. Seems wrong. Makes me think of Albert Einstein and why he left Germany. Which makes me think this country is going to a place that isn’t so safe.

  39. Bruce Lammers

    There’s another way to look at the data – rather than simply analyzing the relationship of number of deaths in a country to whether the country had a lockdown, look at how quickly the country responded, and whether they had a centralized plan in place. Countries such as Vietnam, New Zealand, and South Africa did; the US did not. Also – comparing South Dakota (population density of about 11/sq mile) to Chicago (about 12,000)? That’s silly.

  40. S.

    Obviously arriving to this party late, but nevertheless, given the quotes below from your article, I think you might enjoy the comics here:

    There are other comics scattered around the site that also make some pointed comments like here:

    Quotes from the article
    “Fear drives the crisis in our leaders just as much as it does in citizens.”

    “Governments instituted lockdowns in an arbitrary and capricious manner, and they have given no indication what objective verifiable criteria will be used to lift them.”

  41. Joe Stuerzl

    The caring and love of politicos and some medics is so strong it may kill me.Of course almost all officials from small town mayors to dog catchers are virus experts now.The king of all micro organisms in the world is VOXI doing magic. He spends most of his time in front of microphons or T.V. when is he doing all that when is he doing all that research? No need for that he simply knows ,new viruses or walrusses are lining up into the future as far as the eye can see, endless panic must be maintained. Foxli forgets one thing FARTS .When I lot go it comes with a resounding BOOM,enough to blow up a rubber dingy good for fishing in. There must be a load of viruses in there along with the stink.So fauci you must make laws every one wear diapers. Set up roadblocks to check everyone wears one.I recommend Pampers and Huggies, man size, made in new industries build by GATES save lives .Dear Voxi if you need more ideas and guidens from me make contact . No need to pay for my service as I expect a huge grant any time from the Gates foundation. The LONE RANGER.

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