The Global Warming Zone, Part 13: The Historical Perspective [UPDATE]

I wasn’t going to post another article today, but guys, I have to share this. It’s too…too…

You’ll see.

I keep bringing up the 1967 flu in terms of raw numbers. Earlier today, I started looking into it in a little more detail.

The first thing: Even through DuckDuckGo, I could find no articles at least on the first page of search results giving any comparisons to the current pandemic.

…Huh? What? Why not?

Let’s dig in.

Before we get to the numbers, let’s look at some symptoms, shall we? As well as worldwide effects:

The 1968 flu pandemic caused illness of varying degrees of severity in different populations. For example, whereas illness was diffuse and affected only small numbers of people in Japan, it was widespread and deadly in the United States. Infection caused upper respiratory symptoms typical of influenza and produced symptoms of chills, fever, and muscle pain and weakness. These symptoms usually persisted for between four and six days. The highest levels of mortality were associated with the most susceptible groups, namely infants and the elderly. Although a vaccine was developed against the virus, it became available only after the pandemic had peaked in many countries.

“Varying degrees of severity”

Enormous differences in infection rates between countries

Upper respiratory symptoms

Symptoms “usually” persisting between 4 to 6 days

Highest mortality in the most susceptible groups

Vaccine developed only when it wasn’t particularly useful

Remind you of anything?

(FYI, most people with Corona-chan? Seven days. Corona-chan also pretty much doesn’t affect infants at all.)

So much for symptoms. So much for recovery time. So much for who it generally effects. Tell it to me straight, Malcolm-Senpai: How bad was it?

Per the CDC:

The estimated number of deaths was 1 million worldwide and about 100,000 in the United States.

This was back in 1968.


We are probably not going to hit the GROSS numbers of this flu in the U.S. Adjusted for percent we’ll be in the ballpark of 200,000 deaths behind. Whoopsie.

“But wait, Malcolm! That’s a misinterpretation of the data that’s counting every wave of the flu that occurred, whereas Fauci’s model is only talking about the current wave! This article gives it as 34,000 deaths!”

Ah, yes. 34,000 deaths. The smallest pandemic of the 20th century.

Hmmmmm. Some math. That’s 0.0165204321% of the population in 1968. We’re using as exact numbers as we can get because when we’re on a scale this large small differences can have noticeable results.

That means for us to equal the percent in America today we would need to hit roughly 54,620 deaths.

We’ll probably hit somewhere in the range of 65,000. Sound that far off to you? Not to me, considering Birx claims that we’re one of the most liberal countries in the world in terms of reporting corona deaths and Ferguson admits that there’s a good chance the vast majority of people who die of the virus would have died this year anyway. The numbers we have are overshot anyway.

Keep in mind, this is the only article I found citing the itty bitty number. CDC gives us the scary one. For the smallest pandemic of the 20th century, that apparently didn’t hit the U.S. that hard.

Let’s dig deeper. The 1957 pandemic might have been bigger in the U.S., or maybe smaller, who’s to say? Are we talking the itty bitty number or the big scary one? Either way, we’re talking 70,000 deaths with an even smaller population. That is 0.03% of the 1957 population. And for what it’s worth, this time there is no big scary number, so presumably there was no other wave – probably because they got a vaccine up and running quickly.

Let’s quite the stalling. In current numbers?

98,914 deaths would scale it.

Even now, with all of our juiced numbers, we are still, STILL most likely not going to hit that. Or even get close to it.

If they juice the numbers again, well, all bets are off, but at least by then it’ll be more likely people will be too disgusted to buy it.

So what did the United States do in response? Full lockdown and panic?

Let’s take a look:

A 2009 article in the journal Biosecurity and Bioterrorism noted that “no efforts were made to quarantine individuals or groups [in 1957-58], and a deliberate decision was made not to cancel or postpone large meetings such as conferences, church gatherings, or athletic events for the purpose of reducing transmission. No attempt was made to limit travel or to otherwise screen travelers.” Schools opened as usual and the disease swept across the entire country.

This was a deliberate decision made because they thought it was worth the cost. And it worked. The economy didn’t suffer.

Yet nobody talks about this.

“But Malcolm, Malcolm! We did lockdowns and they didn’t, or else we WOULD be worse!

Sigh. We would be worse, true. Why, we might even reach the level of the 1957 flu! Maybe. Or maybe not, who’s to say. Maybe it would go away faster, what with herd immunity and all.

“We shouldn’t risk it!”

No, what we should do is make decisions based on the MOST LIKELY OUTCOMES, what is probably going to happen based on what we’ve seen of the past. Not models! Models are as good as what you put into them. If you assume the worst possible outcomes, a model will output the worst possible outcome. What it WON’T, literally can’t, do is spit out the LIKELY outcome.

And of course, at no point have the models been EVEN CLOSE TO RIGHT, but our betters are using them to guide every decision we make.

And of course, we should have gone county by county so individual areas aren’t all treated like the damn metro area.

Wash your hands. We’ll be fine.

[UPDATE: For what it’s worth, I can find nothing corroborating the 34,000 death number anywhere outside of two articles. This article is unsourced.  Bizarrely, this article uses the low number but claims the 1957 flu killed over 100,000 people. Then it just names sources without giving the location of the information – and the CDC source flatly contradicts them.

So every respectable source I’ve looked at gives the 100,000 number and claim the 57′ flu was the mildest – CDC included. So if you just want to make this whole thing even more ludicrous, well, there you go. I can also find literally absolutely nothing detailing how America handled it, which tells me they probably did very little.]

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5 Responses to The Global Warming Zone, Part 13: The Historical Perspective [UPDATE]

  1. dpmonahan says:

    The saying goes all models are wrong, some models are useful.
    No, one does not govern by a model, but what one is supposed to do is propose a range of likely models and come up with a robust plan that is successful across them.
    Of course as someone like Nicholas Nassim Taleb points out, there are events that cannot be modeled and these will shred your plans. A truly robust plan is a maximally conservative one.
    I think the reason for the strong reaction is that there is a high degree of uncertainty with this virus because of China’s lack of transparency and the inherent difficulty of measuring infection rates. We are not really going to know how bad the virus was for a few more months.
    You are essentially arguing that because of the uncertainty we should take a minimalist approach, others are saying that because of the uncertainty we should take a maximalist approach. The maximalists would argue that an overreaction is more robust because the result of underreaction is death, and death trumps every other threat. They tend to discount 1) most of the deaths are among people with one foot in the grave and 2) there are massive economic costs, and the resulting political instability could have nasty unforeseen consequences including things that can kill you, like famine, revolution, and war.
    This is why we pray that the legitimate authorities are granted wisdom when they make decisions for the common good.

    • I m not rguing tht. I sm srguing thst wr should hsvw obsrrvwd whst ws hsppwning, thrn vtd within historixsl trwnds.

      Mu phonr, ig uou will xvusr mr, is svting up quitr amusinglu. I. Would dlrt thi but it muss mr. Try to trnsltr!

    • The proper answer, with a working phone:

      No. What I wanted to do is wait a month and monitor, which we did.

      After this it was glaringly obvious this was a fairly pedestrian pandemic, so I wanted to quarantine the areas hardest hit and ban nursing home visits. Everyone else goes business as usual. I expect in my plans “real deaths” would be 60 or 70 thousand, juiced numbers 100 to 200 thousand.

      If one model give you absurd numbers, then you look at the rest of the data and use the most likely outcomes to guide your decisions.

      I expect Lombardy was the tipping point, but they were a very strange case of a bad flu area already in a socialized healthcare system.

      Symptoms and the way the 67 flu was spread were frighteningly similar. That should have helped guide our behavior. Now unemployment is 20 percent instead.

  2. Rudolph Harrier says:

    The IHME recently gave suggestions about when states could consider relaxing lockdown requirements. Not when they should, but when they could consider it.

    The metric used was that the total number of hospitalizations in the state had to be below 1 per 1 million cases in the case at the top of their 95% confidence interval (you know, the edge no one has even even been close to. I’m not 100% certain, but I’ve never even seen the reality hit a third of the top of the confidence interval).

    In my home state of Minnesota this means that they do not want us to open up until there are less than 6 people hospitalized in the entire state, in their worst case projections. In states like Wyoming, this would suggest that not even a single person in the worst case scenario can be in the hospital, though the IHME seems to have made an exception for small states like Wyoming, since there they allow considerations to start on May 31, where according to them there might be 2 people in the hospital.

    Even if you grant that their models are accurate this is insane. And of course there is no reason to believe that their models are accurate (especially for hospitalzations), since they have not been accurate up to this point.

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