Post #748: “Cannot be ruled out”. Who (or WHO) can fire these people?

Posted on July 8, 2020

Sometimes its heartening to realize that the USA doesn’t have a monopoly on stupid.  Sometimes, its disheartening.  In this case, the latter.

Recall Post #745, regarding a letter sent to the WHO, signed by the 200+ of the Who’s Who of epidemiology, asking the WHO to reconsider its stance on whether or not airborne (aerosol) transmission of COVID-19 matters.

Just to be clear, a) you’d have to be an idiot to think otherwise, and b) from an economist’s perspective, you’d have to be doubly an idiot not to say it.  Why?  It’s an “asymmetric risk function”.

Asymmetric risk?  If you say it, and you’re wrong, you needlessly cost people a few bucks a head, for the extra wear-and-tear on their face masks.  By contrast, if you don’t say it, and you’re wrong, people die in large numbers.

To an economist, this is almost a no-brainer.  Masks are cheap.  Lives are not.  If the evidence suggests airborne (aerosol) transmission, then you should deal with that.  As in, recommend that people wear masks, even with social distancing.

But this is precisely what the WHO refuses to do.

Just read this news article, or this one, in response to that letter.  Oh, yes, we must have well-designed randomized clinical trials before we would dare to draw any conclusions.

Translation:  Give is a couple of years, and we might be willing to offer an opinion on this.

It’s tough to get more out-of-touch with reality than that.  There is no better example of Emerson’s foolish consistency.  To these folks, there is one and only one type of evidence that matters: randomized trials.  They are simply too stupid to be able to weigh the rest of the evidence that does not fit their medical-background clinical-trial paradigm.

So, as much as it pains me to say it, I’m with the President on this one.  De-fund the WHO.  Maybe in the ensuing crisis, they’ll sweep out the dead wood, and put in some people who can actually think.  At which point, they would get our full support.

In my prior posting on this, I cited reporting that said:

They’ll die defending their view,” said one longstanding W.H.O. consultant, who did not wish to be identified ...

If this is the best they can offer, we’re better off just getting them out of the way.  Until the point where we cannot rule out the possibility that key staff in the WHO are not totally clueless.