2020 August 25

     In another version of 2020 March, kind of like the movie "Yesterday," I went online one day and found the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) just released a study that the moon at night was now almost as bright as the noonday sun which presents a terrific danger to those outside at night. People were urgently warned not to go outside at night because of the danger of blindness and sunburn.

     It wasn't a conspiracy, at least not at first. Some science guys were reading the data, lost track of a decimal point, got all excited at how bright the moon had become, and told some other people. By the time the reality hit that this was simply a data-interpretation error, the rumor had spread like wildfire. Once the politicians and fearmongers got ahold of it, the dangerous-bright-moon story was here to stay.

     Governers of several states issued immediate directives for people not to go outside at night. Armed officers would be enforcing the ban. All public institutions, including bars and restaurants, have to close a half hour before sunset to give people time to get back to their homes before the dangerous bright moon is visible. Special vehicles with ultra-darkened windows are the only vehicles allowed at night and they are limited to twenty-five miles per hour.

     Hospitals are directed to turn away patients and to send non-ICU patients home in anticipation of burn-trauma cases from the intense moonlight. Without ambulances, emergency patients have to wait for a special night vehicle to drive them to the hospitals at twenty-five miles per hour.

     Even the less-restrictive states have closed down night entertainment. The result of these restrictions cost hundreds of millions of Americans their Constitutional liberties and tens of millions their jobs. Tens of thousands lost their lives from suicides, drug overdoses, and domestic violence. It's not a pretty picture. The American economy is almost down to the point it was back in 2015 and 2016.

     After a while the governers of all but one or two states have allowed people to move freely. People who have to go out at night have to wear goggle glasses (like the ones swimmers wear training in the pool) and wear SPF50 sunscreen and these rules are enforced by the armed officers. Social media are awash in postings about how people who don't wear clear, transparent goggles are somehow bad, unpatriotic, uncaring people.

     So what the regular people doing in this crisis?

     Most are Believers who stay home. When the Believers have to go out to get the mail after dark, they wear sunscreen and goggle glasses and check carefully to make sure nobody was around, either armed guards to arrest them or neighbors to "rat them out" to the police. The Believers stay away from the windows lest stray ultra-bright moonlight blind them or burn them.

     Some scientifically-minded people look up NASA's historical data on the brightness of the moon and they find last year's brightness measurements are exactly the same as this year. In fact, the last fifteen years are all the same. So anybody going out at night in any year from 2005 through 2019 would be subjected to no greater risk going outside in 2020. When the scientific people point out these observations, the Believers respond it might be true, but they want to stay inside anyway to be safe.

     Some skeptical people just looked outside. If the moon were that bright, then would it still be dark every night? Such a threat would be frequently visible as half the night time has a moon in the sky. Besides, nobody anybody actually knows has gone blind or had burns from this bright moonlight, even those who have defied authority and gone outside. (This isn't a scene from the movie "The Birdbox.") When the skeptical people point out that we would visibly see the bright moonlight if the bright-moon claims are true, the Believers respond that the experts, mostly a sixteen-year-old girl who was the Time Magazine expert on climate and a guy who plays a scientist on children's TV shows, both say the threat is real, so they want to stay inside anyway to be safe.

     Practical people figured even if the moon at night is as bright as the noonday sun, well, the daylight sun is only as bright as the noonday sign and people don't generally die going outside then. When the practical people point out we've been going outside without goggles during the say for millions of years without terrible consequence, the Believers say we both have our opinions and they're entitled to wreak economic damage because they want everybody to stay inside to be safe.

     Politically astute people point out the political timing of the threat announcement is suspicious. Why is it that just about all the Democrats believe in the bright-moon threat and most of the conservatives have doubts? The absolute proof is the insistence on clear goggles with no tint to protect our eyes from bright lights. When the politically-astute people point out the futility of clear plastic to protect against dangerously bright light, they get a barrage of pushback from the Believers on the same rational level as claiming people who wear mis-matched socks are giving their dogs rabies. The governmental authorities respond by insisting people wear clear goggles during the day also just in case they forget to put them on at sunset.

     I'm just as afraid of being blinded and sunburned as the danger-moon zealots. I'm just as terrified, but I recognize that this particular threat isn't the problem. I can wear ultra-violet-filtering glasses if I want to, or a cap with a brim that reduces my eyes' exposure to the sky. I can use high-SPF lotion on my skin. But I don't feel it's the role of government to shut down the economy because of this newly-realized lunar threat.

     I hesitate to post this piece lest a wave of left-wing liberals decide the bright-moon threat is real and we all have something new to fear.

     Now let's look at the COVID-19 corona virus. The scientific people looked at the same death rates (actually slightly higher) in 2019 and 2018, not to mention the obvious substitution of COVID-19 for true causes of death. The skeptical people noticed that the number of people they know who are actually sick with COVID-19 is reliably one-hundred times less than the published death rates would indicate. The practical people point out the claimed COVID-19 death rates are still small compared to cancer and heart attacks The astute people point out that a cloth mask for a dry virus is the same as a chain-link mosquito net or a fishnet condom.

     To a scientific, skeptical, practical, astute person, the two scenarios of the danger moon and COVID-19 have the same credibility. I know people, even some smart people, who say, "Well, I understand your scientific, skeptical, practical, astute opinion, but I have my own opinion that's different." Fine, but when I ask how many people's liberty, livelihood, and lives they're willing to use government power to sacrifice for that opinion, these people become silent.

     All of these smart people come to the same conclusion. Whatever the true story is about COVID-19, giving up our freedom and the joy in our lives is clearly the wrong choice, no matter what Greta and Bill Nye are telling us.

The scientific person looks at data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and notes that the deaths from respiratory disease in 2020 are no higher than in 2019 and 2018 and, in fact, they're slightly lower. (I didn't do this myself, but a mathematically-astute Python-programmer friend went through several states and made this observation.) We have made giant strides in reducing the big, bad diseases like smallpox and polio, but people still get sick. They still get diseases like colds and flu. "It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity. It is ecological balance." The skeptical person does the basic arithmetic. COVID-19 is claimed to have a one-percent mortality rate for those who are actually, visibly sick from it. (I'm not counting people who tested positive but weren't really sick. That one percent applies to people who really got sick like the three people in my office who took a week off from the regular flu in early 2020.) If 150 thousand Americans died of a disease with a one-percent mortality rate, then 15 million Americans were really sick from it. That's one person in twenty-three, more than what any of us have observed by a factor of about one hundred. That means the COVID-19 death count is actually closer to 2000.
The practical person asks the practical question. Three million Americans have died so far in 2020, figuring a population of 330 million in equalibrium with a life expectancy of seventy-five years. As a sixty-three year old asthmatic in otherwise pretty-good health, I face a two-percent (2%) chance of dying in the next year. Even if I believe that 200 thousand people are dying of COVID-19, should I get into a snit because that 2% might go up to 2.1%? More importantly, is it worth sacrificing liberty, livelihoods, and lives in the hope of mitigating that difference by a small amount? The politically-astute person asks several questions: Given that washing hands, staying home, and avoiding sex with strangers makes the chance of getting this disease nearly zero, why the lockdowns? We're told that's because masks that worked for bacteria and regular flu (including the Spanish flu of 1918 and 1919) don't work filtering a dry corona virus. Why did these economically-terrible lockdowns happen just after Democratic-party leaders said it was important to bring the economy down to Obama levels to discredit President Trump's claim of economic gains? After all that, why are they promoting cloth masks after basing an entire national and worldwide lockdown policy on the ineffectiveness of those same masks?




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