KLAVAN: On Computer Models, Socialism, And Other Garbage

Nurse Canan Emcan shows a test kit for coronavirus samples at the isolation ward of the Uniklinikum Essen university hospital in Essen, western Germany, on March 9, 2020.
Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

It is going to be some time before we learn the big lessons of the current pandemic: what we could have done earlier, whether we over-reacted, whether Nancy Pelosi needs to be caged or merely sedated. But there’s one thing that’s clear already: anyone who panics over a computer model is an idiot or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. But I repeat myself.

Britain was reacting cautiously to this virus until a computer model from the Imperial College London predicted the ChiCom Flu would kill up to half a million Brits and up to more than two million Americans. Lockdowns ensued in both countries.

Soon after, Professor Neil Ferguson, the scientist behind the Imperial model, issued a stunning Emily Litella-style Never Mind, reducing his British estimate to up to 20-thousand fatalities, most of whom were going to die this year anyway.

Now, I’m an older guy with a bum lung and have even older friends with even bummer lungs, so please don’t think I’m being unduly blithe when I say: What the hell?

Computer models are guesses. They are not made by computers. They are made by people. People put in the numbers. People put in the assumptions about what’s going to happen next. And as things change, the people change the input to reflect what really happened instead of what they said was going to happen. By the time the crisis is over, they have adjusted the input to reflect the final result. Then they say: “Look, we got it right.”

The key to understanding who these modelers are came in a phrase uttered by Dr. Anthony Fauci after he announced the latest guess. “I know my modeling colleagues are not going to be happy with me,” Fauci said, “but models are only as good as the assumptions you put into them.”

Stop and ponder the psychology of that for a minute. Why wouldn’t his colleagues be happy with him for saying what is so obviously true? Well, it’s because these guys live off the authority their guesses derive from having the word “computer” attached to them and by saying “Look, we got it right,” after they’ve adjusted their models to reflect the final outcome.

According to an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Benny Peiser and Andrew Montford — two men who do battle against climate hysteria — “Several researchers have apparently asked to see Imperial’s calculations,” but Ferguson “has said that the computer code is 13 years old and thousands of lines of it ‘undocumented,’ making it hard for anyone to work with.” Shouldn’t Ferguson have thought of this before he predicted millions would die?

Then there’s the process by which these guesses are translated into psychic terrorism by journalists, the most incompetent and corrupt people in the country not currently in prison or government.

Here’s Fauci talking about a new model with a worst case scenario of 200-thousand deaths: “Looking at what we’re seeing now, I would say between 100 and 200-thousand [deaths] but I don’t want to be held to that… I don’t think we really need to make a projection when it’s such a moving target that you could so easily be wrong.”

Here is Geoff Bennett on NBC Nightly News reporting the estimates: “The White House is now projecting that the country could see between 100,000 to 240,000 deaths resulting from this pandemic. That’s a best-case scenario. Underscoring the stark reality of this crisis.”

Can you spot the difference?

I am not someone who has screamed and yelled about the loss of civil rights during quarantine. Even in a free country, municipalities and states have extraordinary powers in a health emergency. Nor am I going on Twitter declaring that the government has over-reacted because I know I don’t know.

But I do think we should remember what is happening now. I think we should remember how easy it is for us to lose our freedom in an emergency. I think we should remember how easy it is for the government to spend our grandchildren’s money like water when everyone’s afraid. I think we should remember the virus of socialism that has infected the minds of our chattering classes, who are always so eager to manufacture a crisis like this in which they can, in the words of Democrat House Whip Jim Clyburn, “restructure things to fit our vision.”

And the next time some AOC-type knucklehead starts screaming about their computer models on the climate and how we need to destroy our way of life and our freedoms to accommodate their Green New Schemes and Dreams, and then tells us that we’re denying “science” if we refuse to panic and instead stand fast and defend our Constitution, I think we need to show them our model, which looks remarkably like a great big middle finger and comes with a caption: “Model this.”

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