What the heck is herd immunity?

THURSDAY, MAY 13, 2021

Slate attempts to say: We're so old that we can remember when Slate was a smart, high-end mainstream web site.

Today, Slate largely panders. If you want to know how dumb we actually are in Our Town, you just have to visit Slate.

Slate often aims extremely low in an apparent attempt to attract and hold readers. So far today, for example, the site has offered such think pieces as these:

Pooping at the Office Again Is Going to Be Terrible
BY ANGELA LASHBROOK / MAY 13, 2021 / 5:45 AM

My Boyfriend Is Desperately Obsessed With a Pop Star
BY DANNY M. LAVERY / MAY 13, 2021 / 5:58 AM

Yesterday, some Slate readers got Schwedeled again, along with other clatter: 

Help! My Cat Caught My Friend Spying on Me Having Sex
BY DANNY M. LAVERY / MAY 12, 2021 / 11:35 AM

Help! My Ex-Husband Slept With My Mom
DEAR PRUDENCE / MAY 12, 2021 / 8:00 AM

What Trump Toilet Paper Can Tell Us About His Election Chances in 2024
BY HEATHER SCHWEDEL / MAY 12, 2021 / 5:47 AM

Some traditional articles are still scattered in, but you may be starting to get the general idea.

At certain times, Slate still tries to offer basic explanations. So it goes in today's new essay, "Most People Are Thinking of Herd Immunity All Wrong."

Readers, you've probably heard of herd immunity. But how well could you explain it?

We'll guess you couldn't explain it well. We certainly know we couldn't!

We have a rough idea of how it works, or at least we think we do. But we don't think we've ever seen anyone actually try to explain the phenomenon, and it isn't entirely clear in our mind.

For that reason, we hungrily clicked the link to the new Slate report. The report was written by a PhD scientist at Wisconsin Madison. We'd have to call her effort incoherent.

The human capacity for incoherence has been a lifelong interest of ours. A certain type of (unrecognized) incoherence was the principal concern of the later Wittgenstein, who was very hot at one time. For us, this tracks all the way back to college, back to the street-fighting days of 1969.

Certain types of incoherence are remarkably widespread. Einstein himself couldn't make Einstein easy. In the hundred years which have passed, no one else has been able to do it either, but our journalists and our academics tend to insist that various people have.

Slate's PhD. scientist writer composed a wholly jumbled mess as she tried to explain what herd immunity is, or perhaps how herd immunity works. She didn't seem to know that her essay was incoherent.  Apparently, no one else at Slate noticed the problem either.

(Go ahead—read her piece! If you think the essay makes sense, we think you should read it again!)

Concerning the piddle which keeps Slate afloat, we would ask this question:

Can a group as dumb as we have become really hope to prevail or survive? (Experts uniformly suggest that the answer is no.)

Concerning Slate's attempt to explain herd immunity, we would offer this:

Complete and total incoherence has been in the saddle and riding humankind since the dawn of the west. Naming one name, Plato almost never made a lick of sense in his "philosophical" work—but Alfred North Whitehead famously offered this assessment: 

"The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato." Arguably sad but true!

Some Slate readers got Schwedeled again. Technological progress to the side, has it been that way all along?


21 comments:

  1. "If you want to know how dumb we actually are in Our Town, you just have to visit Slate."

    We never do, dear Bob. But we're confident that your comment section gives them a good run for their money.

    Actually, one doesn't need to visit Slate or your comment section. Liberal stupidity - overwhelming, incomprehensible stupidity - and (let's not forget) dishonesty is openly broadcasted 7x24 through millions of channels. It's everywhere. Everything else has been cancelled, censored.

    Oh well.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. We never do, dear Bob. But we're confident that your comment section gives them a good run for their money.
      Indeed!

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  2. O the courage! To stand up against a raging behemoth like Slate! That'll show 'em!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope someone called PETA over that guy’s poor cat.

      Delete
  3. Very early in the PHD's explanation, we get this:
    "...what herd immunity really is: a scenario where so few people have a disease that even those who can’t be vaccinated will never get sick, simply because they’ll never have the chance. One of herd immunity’s hallmarks is that cases are so rare that they make news. It’s not a cutoff, it’s not a magic number, and it’s usually not even an ending."
    I'm not a PHD, statistician or medical doctor, but this actually seems like a pretty clear and concise explanation of "Herd Immunity."
    To me, it means the disease probably never totally goes away, but enough people have immunity that it can't take hold and spread into another pandemic, and we don't worry much about it.
    Think about measles, mumps, whooping cough and other diseases that used to ravage communities.
    Somerby is being purposely obtuse on this one.


    ReplyDelete
  4. Somerby states that he has a poor idea of what herd immunity is, and admits that he couldn't explain it himself. Then he calls the PhD's explanation "incoherent." On what basis can he make that determination when he doesn't know what it is himself and cannot explain it?

    Somerby does this a lot. It never enters his mind that perhaps he doesn't understand because of his own cognitive limitations (or willful obtuseness), not because the explanation was lacking.

    All it takes is for someone to be described as an expert of a PhD and Somerby goes on the attack. His weapon is his pretended lack of comprehension. This is a game he plays in order embarrass anyone claiming expertise.

    As long as he cannot figure out what herd immunity is, even when a PhD statistician explains it to him, he'd better keep on wearing that mask.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The calls are coming from inside Somerby's head.

      Delete
  5. "Can a group as dumb as we have become really hope to prevail or survive? (Experts uniformly suggest that the answer is no.)"

    Just because one group of humans (Americans) have chosen to become immensely dumb doesn't mean that other parts of the world can't progress and move towards reasoned improvement of the human condition.

    ReplyDelete
  6. China, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, New Zealand, Vietnam, Thailand, and Australia all had Covid-19 death rates that were dozens of times lower than ours. This proves that there is still intelligent life on this planet, though not in the USA.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is very intelligent to be born on an island that can control access during a pandemic.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for proof that there no hope for dumb Americans. Moronic Americans don't even know that Thailand, South Korea, Vietnam are not islands. And that Taiwan is an island a few miles off the Chinese coast where the virus began, and the continent of N. America is essentially an island 5,000 miles from China. Americans worship greed, ignorance, and irrationality in defense of their obvious stupidity. That's is the recipe for their covid-19 failure.

      Delete
    3. It doesn't prove anything.

      And what's with generalizing about a group of 330 million people of all walks of life?

      Delete
  7. Stop smearing all of humanity using examples of American stupidity and failure while ignoring examples of non-American success stories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He is ignoring American success stories too.

      Delete
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