Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: The Novelty of Our Situation

 

“In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.” — C.S. Lewis

While Lewis wrote this in regard to the then-new threat of atomic warfare, it seems remarkably appropriate to today’s Chinese coronavirus scare. While we may be reacting to the threat in novel ways, the threat itself is as old as mankind. Yet death is inevitable once birth has occurred. Through our panic (as others have noted on Ricochet) some may be hastening their own deaths or the deaths of others.

The solution seems to be to face the crisis without exaggerating its threat or novelty. Is Chinese coronavirus serious? Yes. Is it more serious than influenza? Very likely so. Is it something on the order of the bubonic plague? Get real.

It should be noted that of those that died of Chinese coronavirus in Italy, almost 50 percent had three or more serious underlying medical conditions and, of the remainder, around one-quarter had one serious preexisting condition and another quarter had two. Less than 1 percent of those who died were otherwise healthy. (Note this does not mean 1 percent of otherwise healthy people will die of the disease, it means less one percent of those that die of the disease will be otherwise healthy. And apparently less than three percent of those that contract it die of it.)

The median age of those who died in Italy (here, full report here) was 80.5 with a standard distribution of about 10 years. That means over two-thirds of those who die of it are between 70 and 90. I am 64 and, other than hypertension in good health. I should worry about it, but not excessively. My 89-year-old mother is at serious risk, but has isolated herself. My sons, in their 30s, are at some risk. Those healthy college kids, intent on partying through spring break are behaving rationally.

This is not to minimize the threat Chinese coronavirus poses. It is to suggest that we not implement cures worse than the threat the disease poses.

Published in General
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 13 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. GrannyDude Member

    “It should be noted that of those that died of Chinese coronavirus in Italy, almost fifty percent had three or more serious underlying medical conditions and of the remainder around one-quarter had one serious preexisting condition and another quarter had two. “

     

    I love the quote and have sent it out to my loved ones, as a bracing start to the day.

    Having said that, I no longer find that line about “preexisting conditions” particularly comforting. An awful lot of people I know and love and work with could easily be described, after dying of Wuhan, as having “underlying medical issues,” some even “serious.” I have LEOs in my life who suffer from, and must manage, asthma, type 1 Diabetes, chronic Lyme disease or high blood pressure… and of course, family members who I never would have thought of as medically vulnerable who turn out to be…medically vulnerable. 

    This is going to sound like an unfair comparison, and I don’t mean it to be: the “only people with preexisting conditions” thing echoes the way abortion rights advocates dismiss later abortions as only taking place when there are risks to the mothers life or health, or there are “catastrophic” anomalies in the fetus, and perhaps serves something like the same purpose. We get to soothe our disquiet by imagining rare and dramatic scenarios rather than the quotidian travails folks around us suffer from and yet live happy and valuable lives. 

    Again, @Seawriter, I know you aren’t saying that the lives lost weren’t worthy of saving, only that most of us need not panic. I haven’t seen a lot of panic in my own world, just a mindfulness about germs that we’re not in the habit of exercising! 

    As for the young people partying on the beach: That only makes sense if the only life you are risking is your own. The principle here is presumably the same as immunizing children against what would be, for them, a very mild illness: Rubella. Not a big deal for a six year old; catastrophic for pregnant women and their unborn babies.

    • #1
    • March 28, 2020, at 7:12 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  2. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    The problem is the term “serious underlying medical conditions”. In our current pill for everything environment a large amount of people have and are treating “serious underlying medical conditions”

    • #2
    • March 28, 2020, at 7:18 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  3. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Seawriter and GrannyDude, my initial reaction is to feel like Tevye and say that both of you are right. And if anyone points out that you both can’t be right, I can point out that they, too, are right.

    However, I do ultimately side with Seawriter.

    GrannyDude (View Comment):
    Again, @Seawriter, I know you aren’t saying that the lives lost weren’t worthy of saving, only that most of us need not panic.

    This is an improper formulation. The question is not whether a life is “worthy of saving.” Framing the question this way is a rhetorical technique that will always require the more cautious approach. It will require that we reduce all speed limits to 15 mph. It is not rational, because it considers only the benefits and not the costs.

    Many people seem to have a hard time thinking in this way.

    It’s harder when you add uncertainty. We don’t exactly know how many lives might be saved by various measures, and we don’t know the cost of those measures. But we have to start with a cost/benefit model.

    • #3
    • March 28, 2020, at 7:45 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  4. Vectorman Thatcher

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    The problem is the term “serious underlying medical conditions”. In our current pill for everything environment a large amount of people have and are treating “serious underlying medical conditions”

    Agreed. 

    Without disparaging medical professionals, healthy people have variations that make “perfect” diagnosis difficult. For example, cholesterol is easy to measure, but “high” cholesterol doesn’t always lead to heart or stroke attacks. The medical field now identifies High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) as “good cholesterol.” Medicine by numbers is not always the answer.


    Join other Ricochet members by submitting a Quote of the Day post, the easiest way to start a fun conversation. There are many open days on the April Signup Sheet. We even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today

    • #4
    • March 28, 2020, at 7:57 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  5. Seawriter Member
    Seawriter

    Here is the thing. We are all going to die. Deaths are apportioned like births, one to a customer. Life is a holding action we eventually lose. We cannot stop anyone from dying. We can only postpone it. Especially after you have collected your three-score-years-and-ten. Too many people are in denial about that unchangeable fact. It is the only thing you have no choice about. (Even with taxes you have choices. You can choose to go to jail rather than pay them.)

    What counts is what you do with your life while you are alive. If you take no risks, avoid everything that could potentially cause you to die, you die anyway at the end of a life in which you did very little. And when you face God on His great judgement seat, and He asks what you did with the talents He lent you all you can say is you buried them in the garden. Thanks, but no thanks. I would rather risk greatly hoping to achieve greatly. (I have aimed at the stars in my life. I missed them, but at least with the gun pointed at the stars I could not shoot my foot off.)

    The horror of the 1918 Pandemic was not that it killed the elderly. It was that it struck hardest at the young, those in the first measure of being adult. To make the world stop to postpone the deaths of those in ill-health by a year or two is wrong. The poverty created in the wake of a world-wide economic disruption is going to kill many more over the next five years than the Chinese coronavirus will kill this year. Those with preexisting conditions are going to find it difficult to control those conditions if they lack the financial resources to control them. So they end up just as dead, only not from coronavirus. Rather due to an overreaction to it.

    I don’t want my sons’ lives blighted to reduce the risk that I might die of this. I don’t want any young person’s life blighted taking extraordinary measures with a small marginal return. There are steps that can be taken, but they have to be commensurate with the cost.

    • #5
    • March 28, 2020, at 8:23 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  6. I Walton Member

    Why have we gone bonkers over this disease. It’s easy for us old folks to self isolate. For the rest of the population it’s like any other flu, isn’t it? Adjustments groceries are making are good and others can make adjustments, ground up. This top down storm is far scarier than corona virus.

    • #6
    • March 28, 2020, at 8:32 AM PDT
    • 1 like
    • This comment has been edited.
  7. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    I Walton (View Comment):

    Why have we gone bonkers over this disease. It’s easy for us old folks to self isolate. For the rest of the population it’s like any other flu, isn’t it? Adjustments groceries are making are good and others can make adjustments, ground up. This top down storm is far scarier than corona virus.

    Verdict still out on this. I think many are like me, skeptical, willing to follow along for a bit, but there better be more to this than we are seeing now.

    • #7
    • March 28, 2020, at 8:43 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. Gossamer Cat Coolidge

    Perfect quote and post for these times.

    • #8
    • March 28, 2020, at 9:28 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  9. Majority Rule abridges Free Sp… Coolidge

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    Too many people are in denial about that unchangeable fact. It is the only thing you have no choice about.

    There is one other thing I had no choice in, to be born. From the beginning to the end I am a created being destined to an eternal fate. I little understand the process of how it came to be. I can no more escape this mortal life from death than I can escape the eternal existent to come. 

     

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):
    Fake John/Jane Galt

    I Walton (View Comment):

    Why have we gone bonkers over this disease. It’s easy for us old folks to self isolate. For the rest of the population it’s like any other flu, isn’t it? Adjustments groceries are making are good and others can make adjustments, ground up. This top down storm is far scarier than corona virus.

    Verdict still out on this. I think many are like me, skeptical, willing to follow along for a bit, but there better be more to this than we are seeing now.

    Moses told the Hebrews that wanted to go back to Egypt there is “more to this than we are seeing now”. Imagine being Moses’s Public Relations and Marketing Campaign firm. I mean ten plagues and people wanted to go back after God told them to leave. I think this supports the idea that Propaganda is an easier tool to implement than truth. 

    Truth: God: “Hello, I’m here. I made you and I remove you and I can make another one just like you if I want to.” Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. But fools despise wisdom and instruction.” NKJV 

    Propaganda: COVID – 19. “Fear me,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sby0f4CxFEw

    • #9
    • March 28, 2020, at 11:07 AM PDT
    • Like
  10. GrannyDude Member

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Seawriter and GrannyDude, my initial reaction is to feel like Tevye and say that both of you are right. And if anyone points out that you both can’t be right, I can point out that they, too, are right.

    However, I do ultimately side with Seawriter.

    GrannyDude (View Comment):
    Again, @Seawriter, I know you aren’t saying that the lives lost weren’t worthy of saving, only that most of us need not panic.

    This is an improper formulation. The question is not whether a life is “worthy of saving.” Framing the question this way is a rhetorical technique that will always require the more cautious approach. It will require that we reduce all speed limits to 15 mph. It is not rational, because it considers only the benefits and not the costs.

    Many people seem to have a hard time thinking in this way.

    It’s harder when you add uncertainty. We don’t exactly know how many lives might be saved by various measures, and we don’t know the cost of those measures. But we have to start with a cost/benefit model.

    But lowering the speed limit isn’t the only way to make cars safer. We can also—and have also—introduced seat belts, air bags, infant seats (and laws making them mandatory) crunch-able car bodies —that’s a technical term— that protect the passenger compartment and so on. In other words, yes, we accept risk…and no, we really don’t. 

    We—at least, if we’re talking about me personally—have no real idea of the risk that we are taking or subjecting each other to when it comes to Wuhan. For instance: if I were to do my my normal thing, and respond to a grieving person, what risk I am taking and what am I exposing her to, and how do I balance these?

    I don’t know if I’ve touched the wrong doorknob and am spreading the virus with my handshake. I don’t know if I actually have the disease and am contagious though I’ve yet to show symptoms. I am not capable of assessing all the possible co-morbidities the person in front of me might have, nor am I likely to be presented with an opportunity for discussing this before we’ve already made contact.

    Life is germy. I get that. And yet, when looking briefly into the question of whether gay men are at higher risk (apparently they are, and apparently saying so is verboten) I came across this from a website called, unfelicitously, “Them:” 

    “In other corners of the LGBTQ+ community, the coronavirus has already upended business as usual. Multiple gay men told me they were opting to chat on Grindr rather than meeting up with men who might have the virus. A gay man in L.A. who frequents bath houses said he saw far less cruising during a visit this week, while another in Oakland said he noticed guys were reluctant to kiss on the lips while hooking up.

    (To be clear “any type of sex,” except the cyber kind, could potentially transmit the virus, according to Khalili.)

    On a recent night in West Hollywood, the bars brimmed with crowds dancing, listening to karaoke and ogling go-go dancers. Actress and model Arisce Wanzer was on her way to the Abbey in sky high heels. “Of course the thought [of Coronavirus] crossed my mind,” she said. “If I see someone coughing, I’ll” — she makes a shooing motion with her hand. “But of course I’m out and about because I need to free myself from the hell that is life.” Drag queen Rhea Litre, also spotted on Santa Monica Blvd., said she, too, had second thoughts about coming out. “But, you know, a bitch gotta pay her bills,” she said.

    I suppose the libertarian view would be that we can safely leave it to Ms. Litre to do her own cost-benefit analysis, and decide for herself what is and is not worth the risk of infection?

    BTW, it is interesting to see how the whole alphabet (LGBTQ+) serves to mask peculiarly gay male behaviors and their consequences, as if a lesbians or FTM would be just as likely as a gay man to spend the evenings “cruising” in a bath house. (And why are the bath houses not closed down? Are bath houses exempt, sort of like abortion clinics…because they’re “necessary” or even “life-saving” in a way that hip replacements and beauty parlors are not?

     

    • #10
    • March 28, 2020, at 11:39 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  11. Mark Camp Member

    Seawriter: Through our panic (as others have noted on Ricochet) some may be hastening their own deaths or the deaths of others.

    Our panic causes not just one but two losses. Not just the hastening of death, but also the emptying out of the hours of life that precede it, when panic causes us to live like prisoners.

    When we express our regret at the hastening of our deaths, which will occur one by one and in some cases far in the future, we mustn’t forget the loss of the joys of life that every single one of us is giving up in the present. 

    Otherwise, we will be willing to trade days full of joy for empty days spent in isolation and dullness.

    • #11
    • March 28, 2020, at 2:57 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. Housebroken Thatcher

    Majority Rule abridges Free Sp… (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    Too many people are in denial about that unchangeable fact. It is the only thing you have no choice about.

    There is one other thing I had no choice in, to be born. From the beginning to the end I am a created being destined to an eternal fate. I little understand the process of how it came to be. I can no more escape this mortal life from death than I can escape the eternal existent to come.

     

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):
    Fake John/Jane Galt

    I Walton (View Comment):

    Why have we gone bonkers over this disease. It’s easy for us old folks to self isolate. For the rest of the population it’s like any other flu, isn’t it? Adjustments groceries are making are good and others can make adjustments, ground up. This top down storm is far scarier than corona virus.

    Verdict still out on this. I think many are like me, skeptical, willing to follow along for a bit, but there better be more to this than we are seeing now.

    Moses told the Hebrews that wanted to go back to Egypt there is “more to this than we are seeing now”. Imagine being Moses’s Public Relations and Marketing Campaign firm. I mean ten plagues and people wanted to go back after God told them to leave. I think this supports the idea that Propaganda is an easier tool to implement than truth.

    Truth: God: “Hello, I’m here. I made you and I remove you and I can make another one just like you if I want to.” Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. But fools despise wisdom and instruction.” NKJV

    Propaganda: COVID – 19. “Fear me,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sby0f4CxFEw

    Many with many more years exhibit much less wisdom.

    • #12
    • March 28, 2020, at 7:07 PM PDT
    • Like
  13. Housebroken Thatcher

    GrannyDude (View Comment):
    (And why are the bath houses not closed down? Are bath houses exempt, sort of like abortion clinics…because they’re “necessary” or even “life-saving” in a way that hip replacements and beauty parlors are not?

    Wow. They’re not?

    • #13
    • March 28, 2020, at 7:10 PM PDT
    • Like