COVID was supposed to be that "Independence Day" external threat that would unite us all. Instead, it divided us. How did that happen? In this episode we talk about the danger of statistics and how lies can be less misleading than carefully selected truths.
All these businessmen started picking up copies of Sun Tzu. Now, everyone has a copy of “The Art of War”, and no one ever reads it. It's kind of like Christians with the Bible... I'm joking, joking, I'm joking!
Welcome to Come On! Don't Bullshit Me! Where we peel away the messaging of the talking heads to get to the crux of today's issues.
There's an old expression that there is lies, damn lies, and statistics. People are lying with statistics. And the final statistics that people like to throw out has underlying hidden statistics that it derives itself from. The big thing that they're trying to say is that, oh, COVID is not a big deal, so we shouldn't really worry about it. And that's where a lot of hate is coming from. They come around saying that, oh, it only really kills 2% of people, and even still, it only affects people who are older, or sick, or have comorbidities... That is a new buzzword. No one knew what the word “morbidity” was, but now everyone seems to be an English expert. So they say, oh, yeah, you have comorbidities. And they say that if you are healthy and young, then you don't have anything to worry about, and that we should just open everything back up and not worry about anything.
They say COVID is overblown, it's a hoax, because death rate is so low. And people like to pull out statistics and say, “Oh, look at the CDC data or WHO data!” And people are already mathematically illiterate as it is, but then when you arm them with a little bit of knowledge... or it's not even knowledge, it's information because they don't really apply it. Knowledge is the application of information. But you give them a little bit information, and then they know enough to be dangerous, so they quote... I don't want to say "bogus statistics”, because the statistics on the surface are correct, but the statistics is used in bad faith. Actually, I shouldn't even say that, because again, like I said, they are mathematically illiterate, so they think they are applying the statistics in a good faith way, but because they're mathematically literate, they leap to conclusions that are erroneous at best malicious at worst.
Okay. So, first off, those statistics are only available, if the government in question is actually taking good statistics. Obviously, the big offenders are China, Russia, India, and Turkey. Maybe because they don't have the means to take those statistics, presumably like it was in the case of India; or they are willfully obfuscating the statistics, like it was, allegedly, in the case of Russia and China. And there are a lot of enterprising reporters who said, okay, I'm going to ignore the COVID death rates given by the sovereign nations, that are being reported, and instead I'm going to look at their equivalent of the bureau or office of vital statistics, or whatever it is, and basically look at the excess deaths. Because you can make a reasonable assumption that, if you look at all the excess deaths of 2020 versus other years, you can probably attribute those to the pandemic, because that's the only thing that really changed.
And then the death rates were enormously higher. But, of course, since we are only following the News outlets, rightfully so, we can only really quote the statistics from the WHO, as that is what is being reported. And I am sure some couple of years down the road there is going to be Math Masters or PhD candidates who are going to be taking these statistics, and they will produce a whole bunch of interesting papers on this. On how governments gated the actual death toll on the pandemic. When everything is all said and done. Hopefully, this thing will die out and we are not going to live with this.
The 2% statistics that people quote is an American statistic, so, it comes from the CDC. And you can say, okay, the United States is pretty good and is being open and transparent around statistics. But as the pandemic was unfolding, not to get political on this, it just happens to be political, a lot of the right-wing governors, or the right-wing state governments, were under-reporting, false reporting, you name it, whatever type thing they were doing, to obfuscate their own State's death results. And all the CDC can do is really to just compile the States' results to a Federal level. So, if the States’ results are obfuscated, then, obviously, whatever is reported at the end by the CDC is also going to be obfuscated.
But that is just a minor thing, because, good faith argument, we understand the point of what people are trying to say. I don't want to be like, oh, it was not 2%, it was more like 3.6%. The point is what they're trying to say, I get it, I understand: the final death toll, which is what seems to be the main issue, in their eyes was relatively low, and it didn’t justify the confinement or social shutdown that was warranted in 2020. That's what they argue.
The classic thing that people like to quote is, oh, did you know that more people die to cows than they do to shark attacks? And everyone thinks that this is such a profound thing. Like, oh my God, cows are so much more dangerous than sharks! And it probably started off with a well-intentioned meaning, because there was that whole thing where "Jaws", the movie, put a fear into people about sharks. And it was a disproportionate fear, because prior to that movie sharks weren't really feared by humans. But after the movie, all of a sudden, everyone was scared of sharks. And then the shark attacks started becoming more known because it was reported more. Like, oh my God, it's another shark attack! And then now, of course, we can't really separate the two things and we have this, I do not want to say irrational, but we have this heightened fear of sharks.
And then you had statistic, which, again, may have started well-meaning, I don't know where it came from. But people used it to say, oh, look, you really shouldn't worry about sharks so much because, look, more people die from cows, than they do from sharks.
While on the surface, that's true, the point is that humans interact more with cows, than they do with sharks. If you have 7 billion people in the world, and we all live on... ok, 99.999% of us live on land, with the occasional scuba divers. So, essentially, almost all of us live exclusively on land. So, obviously we are going to be encountering land animals more than we are going to be encountering the marine animals.
So, mow I'm just throwing this completely wrong statistic, let's say, sharks are 25% dangerous, whereas cows are 0.01% dangerous. Well, if you take 7 billion people and then multiply it by that point one percent, that raw number is going to be a lot larger than a hundred people... or, let's say, a thousand people at one time encountering sharks at 25% rate. So, that raw number of people dealing with the cows is going to be a lot larger than the raw number of people encountering sharks. So, obviously when you compare the raw numbers at the end, you are going to be like, oh yeah, look, cows are more dangerous than the sharks, when in reality, no. Because sharks are more dangerous than cows. It's just that we don't interact with sharks so much. And that's why that number is there.
So that profound statement has two hidden statistics underneath, that it is derived from. One is the dangerousness of the animal in question, and two being the exposure rate of the humans to that specific species.
And the similar thing is going on with COVID: the underlying statistic is right, but the statistics only talk about things in the past. They don't talk about things in the future and people will say, oh well, yeah, but you can use statistics to predict the future. Well, yes and no. It's kind of like the gambler's fallacy: if you bet on a Russian roulette.. excuse me, not a Russian roulette, you bet on roulette at the roulette table, and the roulette hits red five times, you're like, oh, I'm going to put all my money on black because it's due! It's bound to be black because it hit red five times before. Because you think the statistics predict what will be next. But no, that's actually not true. The probability of hitting black, minus the double zeros, is, basically, 50%. So, you still have a 50% chance of hitting red versus black. Again, ignoring the zeros for a second. You can't just say, oh, well, because the roulette table hit red five times before, it is going to be black this next turn.
And it's the same thing applies to sharks versus cows. We talked about the attribution error of exposure to sharks versus exposure to cows. But that only talks about the past. Now, if all of a sudden, let's just say, we get into a Kevin Costner “Waterworld” situation, and now everyone is living in the ocean, you can't be like, oh, well, the statistics say cows are more dangerous than the sharks, so should not worry about it. Well, no, actually you really should worry about it, because now all humans are living in the ocean, so our exposure now is way more towards sharks than it is to cattle. Because we stated that the underlying made up dangerousness rate of sharks was 25% as opposed to 0.01% for cows. So, the raw numbers now are going to be much higher for sharks, because not only is the death rate against sharks is higher, but the humanity's exposure to sharks is higher, because now everyone is living in the Kevin Costner “Waterworld”.
Just like in the cattle versus sharks situation, you have hidden underlying statistics from which that COVID 2% comes from. That statistic comes from a whole bunch of different factors.
First off, we have to remember, that that 2% statistic comes from the situation of 2020, which was, essentially, the year of the lockdown.
It's like, you're rolling a 50-sided die, and your chances of rolling a one is 2%. If I gave you a 50-sided die and said, hey, you're going to walk away, easy-peasy-nothing-happens, if you roll between a two and a 50; but if you roll a one, then you are going to get shot in the face by a guy in a PlayStation mask. But that's still an isolated case, because you are rolling the die once, and that's it. There's nothing else. The game ends right there. It starts there and ends there. Boom, done! But when we are talking a pandemic, it is a different situation, because a bullet is not contagious. If you get shot, there is not a risk that someone else is going to get shot after the fact that you got shot. Whereas the virus, once it infects someone, then it can affect others, and on and on and on.
And that's how pandemics happen, right? So when we are talking about virology, or epidemics, or, in this case, a pandemic, the thing is, you can't take the statistics in isolation because every person that gets infected, further increases your chance of getting infected. And what was the big thing that happened in 2020? Oh yeah. That's right, the entire world, essentially, went on a lockdown. Well, that naturally was going to reduce the death rate of the virus, because less people were interacting with each other. Again, it is kind of like the shark situation: the COVID virus itself is dangerous, just like the shark is, but because we were in a lockdown, because we've been socially distancing, because we've been wearing masks, because we've been taking these public safety precautions, our exposure rate dropped. So, therefore, naturally, the end statistic, was going to drop and it became that 2% death rate.
And then there were another fact: in the beginning of the pandemic we didn't know what that virus was. It is called a novel coronavirus, because it was a new thing. So we didn't know how to deal with it. And naturally, as the hospitals started dealing with it, gained more experience with that virus, their triage methods improved and the way they took care of patients improved. For example, one of the things that they like to cite news is that we learned, that you shouldn't lay people on their back, but you should lay them down on their stomach instead, and that'll help the patients get more air in and, apparently, improve their survivability chance. And, obviously, it's a very good thing. But when you're talking about the statistics, it is, an air quote, a "bad" thing. I'm using air quotes again here, because now your presumed death rate is going to be lowered not because the virus, all of a sudden, became less of a threat, but because human ingenuity figured out a way to deal with it.
So, there's that. That by us being able to deal with the virus in a better capacity, we effectively reduced the death rate, which is, obviously, a good thing for humanity. But when you are trying to be dismissive and are flipping about the pandemic in general, it becomes a different story. Because not everyone is going to have access to knowledgeable healthcare staff. Because, maybe, you are in a different country, or you are in a different area, where these COVID best practices haven't been disseminated to yet, and they just legitimately don't know. Now, all of a sudden, you're dealing with that and then you're going to be lying on your back in this specific case. And now your probability of death is going to be higher than it is for the rest of the informed population.
And the response to the pandemic has become needlessly politicized to the point where you cannot have an honest conversation about the potential ramifications of this virus.
There are a lot of these alien movies. We like to talk about how everyone's fighting each other and how humans have wars, but… If you remember, in "Independence Day" movie the aliens came and all of a sudden, everyone banded together to face the common threat. Chinese, Russians, Americans – all fought together. And Bill Pullman had that famous – greatest movie cinematic president by far, even better than Harrison Ford in the the "Air Force One", which is saying something, because Harrison Ford was awesome in "Air Force One", but anyway, Bill Pullman – the greatest cinematic president ever, and then you also had those scenes of the Arab military working with the IDF, and everyone came together to face the common thread of those aliens. And, yeah, that's awesome...
Well, now what we saw in this pandemic, is that was not the case. That even when we have an external threat, like the virus, when this was an opportunity for everyone to band together, because the virus does not discriminate, whether you're a leftist or rightist, whether you're a communist or capitalist, whether you're a Christian or a Muslim, the virus affects everyone. It doesn't care. So you'd think that, okay, we should band together, apolitically, and fight this pandemic. But instead... Maybe this was because the pandemic in most people's eyes wasn't as, quote, “bad” as they thought it was going to be, so they were able to afford to make this a political issue.
And it did become a political issue. But what was surprising, was that it became a political issue in a way that was the opposite of what you would think it would be. Because you would think, okay, well, the Republicans are in charge, Donald Trump is in charge.
Again, I'm talking from an American perspective, and a lot of it comes from the fact that the US perspective dominated the media and it was spread to the other parts of the world. Which is a separate topic in itself. But again, the point here is, we're focusing on the American perspective.
The American perspective is: you have a Republican in charge, Donald Trump. This is a perfect chance for him to rally the nation together, like George W. Bush did after 9/11, and say, hey, we got this pandemic, this virus, it is affecting us all, so we need to band together and come together and fight this thing. And then you would have the Democrats, who, being the minority power, they would be like, oh my God, you bungled this whole thing, and people are dying, and you suck, and politicize it that way, right? Or saying like, oh, you are making all these draconian policies here, and the measures you are taking are inadequate and ill advised; and therefore, we're going to politicize, maybe, not the virus, but we are going to politicize the response to the pandemic.
And of course, the response was politicized, but it was politicized in the opposite way: It was the Democrats, the Left Wing, that was saying, hey, we got to come together and fight this thing, because it affects us all. And the Right Wing was the one saying, oh no, this is ridiculous, it's a hoax. We're not going to take this thing seriously, and Democrats, you, guys, are all full of shit.
So, it is disappointing, that we didn't have our "Independence Day" moment, where we would all band together. But it was also disappointing in the sense that it did become politicized, but it became politicized in the opposite way that you would think it would have been politicized, which shows how completely bizarre is the timeline that we're living in.
You can't be prudent about wearing a mask, where if you're right-wing, you can't wear a mask, because if you wear a mask than, all of a sudden, it means that you are a Democrat. And because of the power of the American media, even in Europe it is associated, that if you're not wearing a mask, that's now like a calling card to say, hey, look, I'm a right-wing conservative. It's like your badge of honor.
Which is completely ridiculous on the surface, but, unfortunately, the battle lines have been drawn up by media. Predominantly, by social media, but just media in general. And this is just another way to divide the population. I guess, this is pretty American-centric, because if you look at the authoritarian regimes, like Russia or China, the government is pretty firm. Or, maybe I should not say this, because that's not really fair: the government of the United States is also firm in saying that we should be taking it seriously. But the point there is that in countries like Russia and China, they essentially speak with one voice and they are dealing with misinformation with a laser focus. Whereas here in the United States, even though we have the executive branch saying, yes, we should take the pandemic seriously, you have people on the right, who are predominantly within the legislative branch, who are muddying the waters deliberately.
And that's only exacerbated by the right wing media apparatus, slash, social media. Now, we can talk about social media some other time, but the whole point is that social media want to drive engagement numbers to increase their revenue streams. And controversy and people being divisive, people being angry with each other, is profitable to them. So there's an incentive to keep this type of lie going.
And of course, as they say in the old KGB manual, you have a lot of "useful idiots" where the media can just drop a little nugget like, oh, COVID is only 2% death, and then these "useful idiots", which are just the people who consume that media… Note that I say "media", not "news", because they are not news. There has even been court cases on this, where they themselves say, oh no, you can't sue us, because we're not news, we're entertainment, but yet, they still lie and say that they're news to the public. Anyway, that's besides the point.
But so, they drop these little nuggets of, quote, "statistics". Again, they're not bogus statistics, but the conclusion that you leap to from these.... Again, it's not bullshit statistics, it's true statistic, but the conclusion that you leap to is bullshit. So, they drop that kind of like a pebble into a pond, and then you have the "useful idiots"... I'm not calling them idiots, but it's just a term that was used in those spy manuals. And then it takes a life of its own, kind of like the ripple effect in a pond: after you drop a stone. You can just drop a stone and walk away, seconds later, the lake is still disruptive with waves and ripples.
The point here is that the final statistic that people like to throw out there, like that pebble into a pond, is that that statistic has underlying hidden statistics that it derives itself from. And those are equally, if not more important than the final statistic, because it is not just the final statistic that matters, but it is the nature of how that statistic came about, which should dictate public policy. In a news report it's fine to report the final statistic, but when you're doing public policy, it's not just about, what is happening. You have to understand why it is happening too, and then reduce those effects.
You know what another great 2% statistic is? Only 2% of American military troops died in World War I. So, in that case World War I was not a big issue. Why is there this thing, that, oh my God, it was the war to end all wars, and it was such a bloody war, such a disaster? For the United States it was only 2% death. Obviously, you can see how ridiculous of a statement that is to say that World War I was not a big deal. Because, first off, the United States entered World War I pretty much at the end – in the fourth quarter – to face a depleted German military, where their will to fight and the effectiveness of their martial capability were severely diminished. And the US provided the much needed resources to the Allies to get through the hump, so that they could continue carrying on with the fight. And the deaths weren't just the United States, but it was also France, UK, and well, I guess Russia was already out because of the Bolshevik revolution, but again, the point here is that... you had that... And oh, by the way, the last year of the war was the advent of tank warfare, which did a big part in ending the war, because now you could use tanks to get over the trenches and you didn't have infantry getting mowed down by the machine gun fire. So there were a lot of underlying things that happened, which contributed to that final statistic of only 2% of American military dying in World War I.
If you're telling me, oh, the COVID death rates are only 2%, it's not a big deal and we shouldn't worry about it, by that same logic I could say, oh, well, in that case, World War I wasn't a big deal, and we shouldn't worry about it because only 2% of the military died, so, who cares? But you can see how comical that statement would be.
Another aspect of it is that the 2% is based on the overall population. Well, that population is divided amongst a whole gamut of age groups. And if it is presumed to be that the COVID virus is more dangerous to the elder than it is to young people, then that younger population is going to contribute to an overall lower death rate to the society, than one that is older, right?
So all things being equal, and this is important, all things being equal, because it's not. But all things being equal, the death rate for, you know, Nigerians, for example, would be expected to be much lower than it would be for Japan, for example. And that is because Japan has a much larger proportion of elderly in their population, whereas Nigeria is a relatively young country.
But again, all things being equal. And it's important to understand it, because that is the only really proper way that you can compare statistics to each other: if you isolate one variable. When you mix and mash a whole bunch of different things, then you don't really know. And it's kind of only God knows what's the actual causation is. So, in this case, that part of that 2% number comes from the fact that that most of their population is young. So it naturally reduces the death rate, but still that doesn't change the fact that the death rate is higher for the elderly.
And these are just the things that we already know. But then again, the justification there is that people say, like, well, yeah, it's high, but it doesn't re really warrant shutting down the economy. And okay, well, fine, we'll let the old people sit home and be confined, whereas young people can go out and do things, right? Well, there are several things wrong with that. First off... I always remember when I was little, my parents, my grandparents, uncles, aunts, they would say, the problem with your generation is that you, guys, don't care about the elderly, you don't respect your elders. Right? Everything, me, me, me, selfish, selfish, selfish. And we show respect to our elders, and you, guys, don't. Well, now here we are. We have this pandemic that, by your own admission, doesn't affect us, but it affects you, guys. And we're the ones trying to protect the country, protect you, guys by having this confinement and lockdown. And you, guys, are the ones to say, oh no, screw everyone, go out there and do not be confined, right? Well, what were all those comments, all that lip service that you were giving us about how this generation doesn't respect its elders? So, that's one thing.
But more importantly, is that, again, when we are talking about a virus, a pandemic, it is not a bullet, it is not a throw of dice. Things do not happen in isolation. If people are out there not being confined, this virus is spreading around and going around with them. Even if the death rate is low, people are still catching the virus. And when they come back home or when they do interact with the elderly, well, now you have a bigger chance, higher chance of exposure to someone who a young person who is infected. They may be asymptomatic, because as you like to say all the time, the 98% of young people are going to survive, so it's no big deal. Well, it's no big deal to them, but for you, it's a big deal, because you're elderly and your death rate is, supposedly, a lot higher.
So, going back to the sharks versus cattle, if you are talking about, oh, well I never go out to the sea, so I'm not going to worry about sharks. Now, all of a sudden, you retired, you went down to a Ibiza or whatever, and now you are basically living by the ocean all the time. Well, maybe I shouldn't say Ibiza, because that's Mediterranean, and sharks, aren't really in Mediterranean. Anyway, you get the point. It is that your exposure rate to sharks now, all of a sudden, is much higher. So your death rate is going to be potentially higher. And this is a cause for concern.
We shouldn't be taking things lightly, because, oh, the mortality rate for COVID is only 2%. There are underlying factors that contribute to that. It's not in isolation. This is not like you have a 2% chance of getting shot with a bullet. This is a virus. So every infection increases the exposure for others, and it just keeps going, and going, and going. That's the real threat here. And this is why the statistics are dangerous to be quoted. And you have a lot of "useful idiots", because people just take the final conclusion from the final statistic in isolation.
And you can't do that, when there are correlating factors. A pandemic by definition is not in isolation. It's based on the interaction of humans and their proximity to the virus and to each other, because that's how the virus is spread.
So that's the whole concept of herd immunity is that herd immunity is, essentially, making the population immune, and therefore reduce the exposure or the transmission rate of the virus. So, you can either do that through immunity, which is the case in a lot of cases, or in this case, where the jury is still out there, we don't know if you can be immune or if you get infected again. It seems to be from what we're seeing, even though if you get infected, it doesn't mean you're immune. You can get it again, we don't know this. I don't want to spread it false information out there.
Speaker 1 (28:55):
But because again, this is a novel coronavirus, emphasis on novel, we're still learning the data. Five years down the road, we'll know about this, because we'll have all the data there in front of us. We can make a logical conclusion, but right now we can't – there's not enough data out there. And there are enough anecdotes, shall we say, to warrant a cause of concern that, hey, immunity is not achievable. Well, if immunity is not achievable and you want to reduce the transmission rate, well, how are you going to do that? If immunity is off the table, then you do that through social distancing and confinement protocols. So that's essentially is just that dangerous, and the pitfalls are in just blindly quoting statistics without understanding the hidden statistics, that the statistic is derived from.
So the second thing is... Well, let me just take a detour here. One of the things that like teach you to worry about in military tactics, if you will, is the shooting to kill versus shooting to maim. And this was an issue that you'd see in Iraq and Afghanistan, that the insurgence would, in some cases, try not to kill the American or NATO troops, coalition, troops, but was trying to injure them.
This is not just some profound thing, this is probably, I don't, I don't think it's in Sun Tzu’s "The Art of War", but essentially it is as old Sun Tzu, or, well, maybe not as old as that, I don't know. We probably can talk about military story in here, because the unique thing these days is that military... Is that modern Militaries, and I can definitely speak about the United States, is that we will do almost anything to save our own troops. And that's the whole thing about the US Air Force, PJs, the Pararescuemen, is that others may live, and the whole, CSAR - Combat Search and Rescue - is that a... And a lot of this came, I guess, from Vietnam and whatnot, is that if someone is behind enemy lines, or if they're trapped, or you get shot down, I say this from an Air Force perspective, we will stop everything, all the operations in that area, and go and rescue the airman or soldier, or whoever it is.. sailor or Marine. And only after we rescue them, will we go back and recommence operations. And the enemy knows this, that specifically, and I'm talking about the United States, but this is true for a lot of other militaries as well, is that if one of our guys is down or injured or anything like that, we're going to do whatever it takes. Even if it takes 10 guys or gals, whatever, I'm from New York, so "guys" is a neutral term. So, yeah, even if it kills like 10 guys, we're still going to, we're going to get that one guy that is injured on the battlefield.
So, the logic there is that if you really want to, again, not strategically, but tactically, stop, the US troops, all you got to do... I'm going to say, "all you got to do" is kind of facetiously, but all you got to do is injure one of the soldiers and then the rest of the unit is going to stop everything, they are doing to try to get that injured troops out of there. And while they're trying to get that injured out of there, you can go pick them off and start killing them and everything like that. It is kind of a morbid thing, but hey, we are talking about the pandemic, so, I guess, the theme fits.
But the point here is that it's almost... I don't know how to phrase this, any way I phrase this is going to come out bad. But from the perspective of zero emotion or zero tact, it's almost better if the person dies, because then the unit is not going stop, and they're going to continue with the operation. Of course, afterwards, they are going to come back and grab the KIA. But, uh, but the point is that if they're injured, everything stops to focus to get that person back to prevent the death. Whereas, if the person is dead, well, the dead, you can't make them undead. So, an effective tactic in modern-day military, where militaries, they try to, generally speaking, try to save their own, is that even though it is an incredibly hard to do, is not shoot to kill, but shoot to maim, shoot to injure. And it stops the operation in its tracks.
Okay. So what does this have to do with the pandemic? Well here. Again, one of the things that we try to do here as the podcast, is we're trying to not being politicians, we're trying to be statesman. And the difference between a politician and a statesman that a politician, you know, they obviously, they deal with politics, where statement try to be above that, above the political fray and are trying to do what's best for the country, which presumably is apolitical. And in this case, forget about the fact that the entire pandemic has been politicized. It's a fact now, you can't stop it. The cat is already out of the bag, but the point here is what matters for the country.
A minor detour. One of the things I remember my grandfather would say to me, is that it's always good to study war. Because in war the human condition boils away all frivolities, so that you only focus on the cold, hard realities, boil away all the bullshit. And what matters is... All that matters is the cold, hard realities. And not only the cold, hard realities, that's what happens in the war, but also soldiers, generals, people who are in the profession of war, don't have the luxury of dealing with politics, because people's lives are on the line. So, naturally, the best solution or the best strategy is going to naturally percolate up. It may take a while and may cause lots of deaths, like it, did in the World War II, the World War I, or you know, many different wars, but eventually the best idea is going to come up because war and the death that come with war - there is a finality to it. So, you can't really hide behind political propaganda, because it becomes very quickly evident. Again, a classic examples is Vietnam: they tried to politicize it and say, oh no, everything's fine with Vietnam, but then it became quickly apparent everything was not fine because that's just the gruesome nature of war. And then only later did we realize that we had to do other things to get out of Vietnam. And those tactics became readily apparent.
I don't know if this was in a Harvard business review or, if it was in The Economist, but one of those big newspapers and magazines, I forget where it was, but they were talking about how a lot of business schools and executives are now focusing on military strategy and are taking lessons from there to make business decisions. Because economists and sociologists can say a lot of bullshit, that sounds nice. And you say, oh yeah, I'm going to try that for my business, and it may or may not work, because there are so many different factors. But because business doesn't have the finality, that war has, your guess is as good as mine whether that practice is going to work.
But if you are studying war, the martial arts, if you will, not like Bruce Lee martial, but martial, as in military arts, then because of the finality of war, the best practices that come from the military can presumably be used as best practices in business.
I don't know if it was in the late nineties, when everyone, all these businessmen started picking up copies of Sun Tzu. Now everyone has a copy of “The Art of War”, even though no one ever reads it. It's kind of like Christians with the Bible... Anyway, I'm joking, I'm joking! And the point is, when you look at the military or when you look at things from a military perspective, it is a good way of boiling away, all the bullshit and dealing with what really matters.
And the reason why I bring that up is that, in the military I made the analogy with the World War I and how 2% of Americans died. I don't know what the death rates are for Iraq or Afghanistan or some of the other recent wars that happened. Let's just not say you the United States, we can talk about death rate of the French in Mali or Ukrainians or Russians in, I guess, Ukraine. Or I guess if you're Russian, then you're saying Russians in Russia. But you look at those death rates, and they are probably a lot less than 2%, I'm assuming, I'm imagining, I don't know what the actual numbers are. But you can make the same thing, the same logic there. If you leap to the conclusion, saying, oh, death rate in these wars are so low. Well, in that case, if you make a parallel with the pandemic, well, in that case, we don't need body armor, we don't need armored personnel carriers, we don't need military security around Forward Operating Bases, because death rate is so low.
Why "waste" all the money on trying to protect soldiers from a death scenario who's probability is so low, right? It's only 2%, or less than 2%. Why do that? Now, of course, if I said that, or if a politician said that... Imagine, if the president, Biden or Trump, whoever, said that, hey, you know what? we're not going to give our soldiers body armor or Armored Personnel Carriers, or up-armored Humvees, because death rate is so low, there would be a massive riot going on, right? For obvious reasons. Because while you can fool people with something like the pandemic, or some other thing like that, in war it becomes painfully obvious that the statistic might be accurate, but the conclusion that you leap to is complete bullshit.
And what does this have to do with shooting to injure, or shooting to meme? Well, the thing is, if we look at the pandemic as a war where we're fighting against the virus, what people are focusing on is the, is the death rate, which is, again, the analogy is shoot the death. But that's not the issue, because again, in my very cold, nasty way of saying things, if a soldier dies, it's "not as bad as, as being injured" in that specific scenario that I'm talking about. The injury is "worse" than the death, right, because it stops everything, grinds everything to a halt. Take that analogy back to the COVID pandemic, and that's the issue here. The issue here is not that people are dying. People are not saying, oh, we need to go to lockdown, because people are dying. The reason why we went to a lockdown, or the reason why we're taking all these precautions, is because that you have patients going into hospitals, going to ICU.
And they're using the hospital beds for two weeks. It's like the Ebola virus. You know, if you go back to, uh, what was this? Michael Crichton book? Um, not Congo... "The Hot Zone"! Yeah, that was "The Hot Zone", yeah, that was it. So, again, it's not like "The Hot Zone" Ebola virus, where, okay, it has 90% mortality or whatever it was, but people die within three days: you come to a hospital and three days later you are dead. I don't remember how many days it was, but the point is, it was very short. It was a super-fast virus, super deadly, just killed people immediately. The thing is there, again, if you're looking at it from a cold calculated perspective, then your hospital, I'm using air quotes again, is "fine" in the sense that, okay, someone got infected with Ebola, they were there for three days, they died. You do what you have to do with disposing that body, but the hospital bed is free.
With the coronavirus it's different. It is not killing people, but instead people are lingering in the hospital for two weeks at a time, maybe even longer. And there's only a limited number of ICU's. It's kind of like, when I'm going back to the analogy of the body armor or the up-armored Humvees, up-armored Humvees are very expensive. The body armor is expensive. The cost of equipping a soldier to preventing this, quote, 2% death rate in a military operation that we just established that the president would be hanged for, it costs a lot of money to equip the soldiers. So, the more body armor that is being taken, the more Humvees that are being taken, the less Humvees to be used for other things. And if you were having more soldiers coming into the battlefield, that means you have to spend more money for more Humvees.
And when you're talking about a virus, the equivalent of the soldiers are the people, who are being infected. They are fighting off the virus. And the Humvees here in this case are the ICU's. Again, the point here is not that people were dying, which... of course that was a point, but in this specific conversation, the point is not that people were dying is that they were taking up the hospital beds for two freaking weeks. So, the hospitals physically couldn't handle the capacity. There weren't enough Humvees. There wasn't enough body armor to give to all the new "soldiers" coming into the battlefield. That was the issue. That's why most statistics like you look in... in Europe, that was also the initial discussions with the CDC before everything got politicized, that was the statistic that really mattered a lot, was that, do we have the healthcare system capacity to deal with the pandemic?
And in this case it was the ICU's, the hospital beds. The more people got infected... Again, because they weren't dying immediately or immediately healing... Like, if you have a cold, you're done in three days. If you have the Ebola, air quotes, you're "done" in three days, you're dead. The point here is being that the hospital beds are free for other people to get a treatment for whatever it is. With COVID that's not the case. You're there for two, maybe three weeks long and you're taking up space. And someone sneaky is going to be, like, well, you know, who cares? Because again, at the end of the day, it's 2% death rate. So I don't really care if the hospitals are being, uh, used up, I'm young and healthy and you know, I work out and I eat properly. So I'm not going to get COVID well, yeah.
Okay. Well, that's fine. Yeah, you're young and healthy and you do that, but you know, maybe you ride a bike, a motorcycle or whatever. Maybe you are just going to work, and, "Final Destination" style, you get into a traffic accident. Because we do have statistics on traffic accidents, and that is really high. And a lot of people get into traffic accidents. Or maybe you're working on your house during the confinement and you're on the ladder, and then you fall, your trip, and then you break your ankle, or something like that. Or you fall down on the rake and now you need to go into the hospital for a tetanus shot, or something like that, whatever, whatever it is. There's a kajillion different ways that we can get injured and require emergency services.
And again, by your statistic that you admit to that, hey, only 2% die. It's not a big deal. But it has nothing to do with the ICU occupation statistic. So there you are coming in for a normally just a minor injury that requires a hospital bed, it's minor but serious, so you require medical help, medical assistance. But because all the beds are being taken, all of a sudden, now you can't get to the treatment that you need. And if all of these ICU beds are being used up by COVID people, now things that you shouldn't have been dying to, now, all of a sudden, you're dying to. And these things are not being reported because, technically, this has nothing to do with COVID. You died from tetanus, you didn't die from COVID. But because these things are related, the seemingly unrelated statistic of the COVID pandemic is directly affecting the seemingly unrelated healthcare situation of you getting bit by your neighbor's dog and potentially getting rabies. And now, all of a sudden, while you should be surviving, because you got bit by the dog, you would just go and get your shot, but now, all of a sudden, you can't do that, because the beds are being taken. And now you've got rabies and, of course, rabies a hundred percent mortality rate, so now you're dead. When you shouldn't have been dead, but now you're dead.
That's the issue. That's why we went down to lockdown. That's why we've been taking these thing seriously. We have social distancing, because we didn't have the beds. Our healthcare system physically couldn't handle the two to three weeks that people were occupying beds. And, so, to go back to the war analogy, it's like, you're putting more troops to the frontline, sending more troops to Iraq, but you're not giving those new troops the body armor. Or another cheeky comparison is World War II Stalingrad - "Enemy at the Gates". You got all your soldiers, but you only have a certain number of guns. And now you're telling them saying, well, you're going to go out there without guns. Anyone who dies, you're going to pick up their gun, but otherwise you just go in there, meat to the grinder. That may have worked for 1942 Soviet union, but it's not going to work for 2020 the United States.
People who take the pandemic seriously, rightfully say, oh, well, it's not just about death rate. It's about taking care of people, and death rate matters because it's not 2%, it's actually higher. Or, oh, you're going to lose your sense of smell, or you can get pneumonia later on, and everything. Those are all, obviously, true and well-meant arguments, but it's not going to sway all these, I'll call them, pandemic deniers, or the people, the "useful idiots", who consume the rhetoric of the pandemic deniers.
But war has an amazing ability to boil away all the bullshit. And when you look at it and you just look at and say, the pandemic, regardless of all those other things that you talk about, it ties up our healthcare systems. So that even if you're not going to die from COVID, now all of a sudden your mortality rate for something that was originally innocuous, now becomes deadly. And that's a problem. And it's not just hospital beds, because I know someone's going to listen to this and I can already see the angry comments, saying things like, even if it's a premature baby, well, technically, they don't need the ICU, they just need a, you know, any old bed will do, or something like that. Okay, fine, point taken. But again, good faith argument here. Listen to what I'm trying to say here.
Okay. Maybe not the ICUs, but the fact that all the nurse staff are taxed. The doctors are taxed, because, we saw all the horror stories about how people are working, ridiculous numbers of shifts, and they are completely taxed. They come home, cry because of all the trauma that they've had with dealing with all these COVID patients. And they're still doing it nowadays. And they're getting maybe four hours of sleep and all, and then you come, and you're dealing with a doctor or a nurse, who are completely burnt out from all those, uh, “COVIDiots”, as people like to say, who didn't take it seriously, and now they do make a mistake, or they give the wrong medication to you or to your wife. And all of a sudden they're dead. Obviously, that's a really doomed scenario, but that's what the seriousness of this pandemic is about.
It's not about the death, which of course is serious, but that's not the argument that's going to sway these pandemic deniers. The issue is tying up the healthcare system. And we can have a separate discussion about, oh, well, this would have been a good opportunity to talk about how we should revamp our healthcare system and make it more affordable. Make the hospitals with higher capacity, mobilize the healthcare infrastructure to deal with things in the future. And that's a great, and it's a missed opportunity, that we didn't deal with that. And it's another thing, again, going back to that last week, we were talking about this, how Democrats are just complete morons with their messaging. Even now, when they're talking about trying to get Medicare for all, they're not using this pandemic to make their case. It's that they deal with these other talking points that just completely get shot down by the likes of Fox news or Newsmax, or whatever.
This would have been a good conversation to have about mobilizing the country. Just like we did when we mobilized for the World War II or for any of these other wars. Because, again, war has a distinct ability to boil away the bullshit. And when at war, if you have to send more troops in, you're going to need to mobilize them and train and equip them, and give them their body armor, or the equipment that they need to fight. And the fact, the matter is, even forget about the patients. The hospitals and the healthcare staff - we didn't arm them with the necessary tools that they needed to fight this pandemic. That's why there was this whole big thing with the masks. And everyone likes to say, oh, well the CDC, they sold conspiracy. They could have told us masks help.
And then now they hid the fact from us because, you know, they needed the masks. But yeah, but you know what? Yeah, they do need the masks, because they are on the front lines, fighting just like in a war. You don't need body armor, when you're walking down the street, even though we have the Second Amendment and you want to carry your AR-15 down the street, and then you want to have your body armor, because you want to look cool. Or like the police want to wear their body armor, because they think their local fellow citizens are all potential armed and dangerous criminals, which is a topic for another podcast. But the thing is, you don't need them as you don't need the body armor as much as the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, who are actually, day in and day out, fighting and have a real, very real threat of dying from the enemy actions.
Okay. So, here's the thing. We can talk about the mask situation. And that's a big, really big pet peeve of mine. But what really infuriates me about this, is that the same people who are the COVID deniers... Let's just say, there's a giant overlap, again, because of the politicized nature of this pandemic, of people who are super pro guns, super pro Second Amendment, where it's like, you have a right to bear arms and tanks and you know, missiles, and they can do anything they want. They think it's the "Red Dawn", and the Democrats are the "Soviet Mexicans". Red Dawn, I forgot, I haven't watched it in a long time, but, I think, it was Mexico that was under the Soviet occupation, right? Anyway, the Soviet Mexicans are coming and you're in Montana with your gun. And you single handily are going to save the country, right? This is ever Second Amendment gun guy's dream.
What, do a lot of these gun people do? They love to go on the internet and see pictures of people with guns. And what is something, that they always like to derisively talk about? Oh, the guy doesn't have trigger discipline. He doesn't have muzzle discipline. You're always supposed to have your index finger on the side of the gun. You should never have it on your trigger. You should never pointed at anyone. And they like to make a big show of taking pictures with their AR-15s, walking down public streets, terrorizing their fellow citizen, but they have it. They're carrying it. They're not pointing at anyone, because they have the muzzle discipline. They like to show the pictures of their index finger extended because, hey, look, I got triggered discipline, right?
Well, excuse me. Why do we have muzzle discipline and trigger discipline, it's an unloaded gun, right? So the death rate from an unloaded gun is like practically 0%. What are you worried about it? You can point the gun at whoever the hell you want, brandishing laws aside, but you can point the muzzle anywhere you want. You can put your index finger on the trigger all you want, click it all you want it, because who cares? It's an unloaded gun. That's... who cares about it? And everyone likes to make a big, giant deal about this. And any time they see someone who doesn't have trigger discipline, immediately, everyone vultures to the carrion, oh, the guy does not have the trigger discipline! The guy doesn't have trigger discipline, but why is that such a big deal? Because it's not that the overall statistical of unloaded gun means the death rate is so low. It's the fact that there's a potential for death. And even if there's a 0.001% chance of death, the outcome, which is death, is pretty drastic, right? It's not like a 0.001% chance that you're going to get an upset stomach. But the fact that the outcome is death, that's a huge thing. And that's why we have trigger discipline and muzzle discipline.
Well, take that same logic to the pandemic. The outcome here that we're talking about is death. It's people's lives. It's a pandemic, it is a virus. And you're here, making a big deal about muzzle or triggered discipline. Yet you won't even wear a mask. What do you think a mask is? When, again, going back to the analogy of military, where military scenarios boil away the bullshit, putting a mask on... that's another statistics is saying, oh, masks are only 10% effective and blah, blah, blah, who cares?
Just like with your trigger discipline, you put a mask on just in case. It is not going to prevent everything. Your mask is basically your muzzle discipline, where in this case in a pandemic of an airborne virus... or, I guess, someone is going to say, well, actually, it's not airborne, it's on water droplets, but you understand what I'm saying. The point is, when we are talking about an airborne virus, the muzzle is essentially your mouth and your nose. Your mouth and your nose are shooting out viruses, viral particles, just like a gun can shoot out bullets. And even with the gun, you know, you've checked it, it's cleared and it's empty. The magazine is empty. But even though that's the case and you know it, you verified it, you still have the muzzle discipline, because that's the right thing to do.
And if you are serious about guns, this is ingrained to you from your very first lesson that you do this. You treat every gun, like it's loaded, right? That's the same. Well, it is the same case with the pandemic: treat every person like they're infected. And if you practice muzzle discipline with a gun, you should practice "muzzle" discipline with your mouth. And in that case, you wear a mask, just like you would you have the muzzle discipline with a gun. When you don't do that, when you just take... When you try to politicize this and say, oh, well, I don't care about this, I'm not gonna wear my mask, because, screw you guys! And it's only 10% effective. Well, you know what you are? You're just faux American. Just like you are cosplaying being a soldier by acting all tough with your body armor and your AR-15 down the street, you are cosplaying as an American, when you don't put the mask on. Because you don't care about your fellow citizens. Because if you did, you would put the mask on, because of the offhand chance, that you do have the virus. Even though it is 10% effective from preventing your infection, it's not about you. It's about making sure that no one else gets hurt. And that's exactly what they teach you from day one, when you handle a gun.
If you would like to comment on this podcast or on the topics covered within it, or you'd like us to raise a new topic in our next episode, please feel free to leave us a message or a voicemail on www.codbsm.com. That's Charlie Oscar, Delta, Bravo, Sierra, Mike dot com. Thank you for listening and see you at the party, Richter!