Predictions Outstripping the Worst Predictions

40% is a lot, especially if you are talking about big numbers. For years we heard fearful predictions about AIDS. AIDS is a serious problem, but it evidently is 40% less serious than we hear and remains concentrated among those practicing high risk behaviors. We are often carried away by politically attractive horrors like AIDS, global warming & maybe Iraq.

These are all real problems; they are all manageable problems. But after the fear mongers paint apocalyptical pictures and celebrities move in to be seen supporting the biggest worthy cause of the year, a phalanx of special interests is created. These guys get status and often big money from fighting the “good” fight and they are darn well sure to oppose anyone who can make the problem less acute. Anybody who proposes solutions that do not require the accepted (usually big government) solutions is anathematized. After all, a less expensive solution means less money for the advocates and activists. Besides, when passions rule they never rule wisely.

The bad news dominates the media. When the predictions are later toned down, it is a one-day story. Beyond that, the vested interests often fight a rear guard action, justifying their mendacity or hysteria by saying they needed to exaggerate to get attention. Sometimes they stumble over the truth, but they just dust themselves off and continue on to the next demonstration.

Posted by Jack at November 20, 2007 3:51 PM
Comments
Comment #238806

I don’t get it. Wasn’t AIDS truly an emergency? A horrible disease that could become an epidemic in the states? Wasn’t that disaster in part avoided because of all the good people that campaigned for AIDS awareness and education? Were these “big business” solutions? I remember it being more of a grass roots movement at first.

Anyway, where in this article does it attribute the skewed perception to celebrities? That’s all in your head. The article says the sampling methodology was flawed - in other words, bad science and polling were the cause of this, not liberals.

Posted by: Max at November 20, 2007 5:02 PM
Comment #238807

When I was a young, I was told the story of a boy who had climbed high into a tall tree. As he was climbing, he slipped and fell. Falling, he started to pray, “Dear God, save me.” A moment later, his shirt became entangled in a branch of the tree…his fall was broken. He looked up to the sky, and said, “Never mind, God…I’m OK.”
The hoopla over AIDS and other managable problems is precisely what makes the problems managable. Of course it would be better to have accurate numbers and of course it would be better if we all dealt with serious problems on a rational and timely basis. But accurate numbers are elusive and we, all, are notorious for letting problems fester until somebody raises an almighty stink.

Posted by: Steve at November 20, 2007 5:09 PM
Comment #238823

Great news, Jack that the spread of AIDS is less than projected. Still, “AIDS remains a devastating public health crisis in the most heavily affected areas of sub-Saharan Africa.” and:

“The latest estimates, due to be released publicly Tuesday, put the number of annual new HIV infections at 2.5 million, a cut of more than 40 percent from last year’s estimate, documents show. The worldwide total of people infected with HIV — estimated a year ago at nearly 40 million and rising — now will be reported as 33 million.”

Which says vigilance and education on safe practices is still VERY much warranted, don’t you think?

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 20, 2007 6:21 PM
Comment #238824

The manageability of these problems depends strongly on getting in front of them before they blossom into worse problems.

The earlier focus on lifestyles, while somewhat accurate in a sense, was nonetheless a needless and deadly distraction, because we were dealing with a virus, not a discrete, discriminating curse from God which would spare the innocent. The problems of high risk categories of people can easily become the problems of those who take more care if we don’t approach things with a more critical mindset.

On the balance, While I recognize the emotional appeal of exaggerating the AIDS threat in Africa, we nevertheless need more accurate pictures of how the HIV virus is really spreading and to whom, so we’re not screwing things up.

Iraq is a great example of people taking a broad belief and screwing things up by not relying on the most accurate information to test that belief. Jack, you compare the current criticism of Iraq to this overestimate of AIDS’ spread, but I think it’s more comparable to the case for war that was prepared so that Americans would want to go into Iraq. Sure it might have compelled us to deal with Saddam, but at the cost of so much credibility, and the opportunity to deal with other more imminent and substantive threats in both terrorism and WMD matters.

Sadly, the troubles in Iraq did not lead to your side taking a more calm and considered approach. Instead, we made a whole bunch of assumptions and left ourselves with few means of judging how well things were going, much less allowing ourselves the choice of believing things might not turn out as planned. Things have spiralled out of our control, and despite our best efforts, they’ve never settled down to anything comparable to what we started with.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 20, 2007 6:46 PM
Comment #238827

Right you are Stephen. The Iraq war was classic scare tactics, if-it-bleeds-it-leads, we’ve got to decide RIGHT NOW!!!! Or else!!

AIDS was over-sold on it’s danger, and hoo-rah, there is less AIDS because some percentage of the population got scared into a slight or humongous behavior change. There is no way to know or measure what impact the government sponsored hysteria/education had on the percentage of inaccuracy, intellectual honesty demands that some of it did, but there is no way to know.

Here is where you Liberals and I part company and I explain why. When AIDS was at the top of the worry charts, what did we do? We launched a massive “EDUCATION” campaign to show people what it could do to their lives, their friends’ lives, our children - etc. What did NOT happen, was the government issuing Condom Credits and passing AIDS restriction legislation, and higher taxes to pay for AIDS this and AIDS that, and every sexual lubricant manufacturer being saddled with ENORMOUS costs because their lubricants were certainly complicit and utilized in the spread of AIDS, etc. and Ad Nauseum.

And that’s the difference, Media Hysteria in order to Educate - Bravo. Media Hysteria in order to Legislate - No No.

Enough Said.

Posted by: Yukon Jake at November 20, 2007 7:01 PM
Comment #238828

Yukon,

What a hypocritical statement. Did Bush launch an education campaign to understand the enemy? Did he convene with other nations about how to eradicate terrorism? No. He created a campaign of fear and launched us into the most expensive war in history, throwing this country into a debt from which it may never recover. Tax and spend? That’s too responsible a description for your party. Borrow and reneg maybe….

Posted by: Max at November 20, 2007 7:12 PM
Comment #238832

There is ample evidence by numerous experts in the health field listing the potential harms of a continued AIDS epidemic. Naturally claims by Blumenaur that it will make Africa as a continent invisible and cause extinction can be questioned. Even so, with sufficient and PROVEN anti-retrovirals available and affordable in this country, don’t we have a moral obligation to provide these to those in more afflicted nations. The potential to save millions of lives easily and our refusal to do so represents an empathetic failure on the national scale. For those of you who would site the money allocated for PEPFAR by Bush this term, $30 billion dollars was about what the U.S. was already on track to spend over the course of the timeframe the bill accounts for. All the proposition did was move it under one big name as a lump sum.

Posted by: Right Now...please at November 20, 2007 7:44 PM
Comment #238836

Stephen:

I think there are many parallels to be looked at with this minor error of 40%. I believe it is fair for you to point out the 100% error in WMD in Iraq. I also believe it is fair for me to point out that there just might be another error with the subject of global warming. The same UN that has a 40% error in aids infections might have a 40% or 100% error in global warming.

We have excellent examples of monumental errors by the UN and US government. Oh and remember oil for food? It seems to be that motive (government funding in the case of aids and global warming) might lead to error.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 20, 2007 8:28 PM
Comment #238837

SD
Boy,thanks a lot. For awhile there I thought we might have a thread that was not about the Iraq War.


Jack
You may be ascribing nefarious motives to an understandable mistake.So now we have a chance to slow down the increase. This is some of that good news you often seek but does not diminish the threat a bit. We have both heard people wail about all the money “wasted” prepareing for Y2K.Gee,look nothing happened.What a ripoff.
I recall a stark quote from an epidemiologist after a major AIDS summit. To paraphrase,”If the cure for AIDS was a clean glass of water most victums would not have access to traetment.” AIDS needs to be addressed WITH global poverty level.

Posted by: BillS at November 20, 2007 8:53 PM
Comment #238842

Stephen,
I want to thank you for your example of putting opinions out there without personal attacks and with clarity.

You should read a few history books on wars and tactics. It is very rare for the expectations beforehand to happen afterward in war. Most results are a complete surprise. Iraq isn’t a matter of incompetence or deception. People who make it a business to maliciously kill others are very unpredictable and unreliable. You don’t know what they are capable of or how they will react.
Should we stay out of sight and let the locals handle it? That was the basis for dem promoted drawdown. Should we show force? It seems to be working now. Sometimes timing is a factor in success.
I am convinced that Al Gore Would have invaded Iraq given the same 70% favorable polls and congressional support for it and the stages that diplomacy with Saddam had already gone through during the Clinton era. And don’t forget 9/11. Diplomacy had already taken it’s course and Saddam is to blame for the situation in Iraq today.

Posted by: Kruser at November 20, 2007 9:28 PM
Comment #238853

Max

Reasonable distinctions. AIDS remains a serious disease. But the AIDS establishment painted a much more dire picture than it disserved. We put more money and attention into it than it deserved, probably at least 40% and more. We also sometimes attacked the disease in the wrong way because of its political popularity. AIDS is lifestyle based. IT is not like the plague or malaria. If you refrain from certain well known behaviors, you can reduce your chances of getting AIDS to near zero. That important message was sometimes obscured; leading people to either just become fatalistic or rely on a cure.

Steve

Please see above. I do not say it is not a problem. What I say is it is a manageable problem that was greatly exaggerated to the point of near hysteria. It caused a misallocation of resources. Perhaps putting a few screens on windows in Africa (to attack malaria) might have saved more lives there than that extra AIDS funding.

David

See both above. It is the exaggeration and the misallocation of funds. I remember in the late 1980s when you got the impression from the media that the whole world would soon have AIDS. The AIDS establishment pushed the idea that it was a very general malady, when in fact it is behavior based. My elderly in-laws got a notice in the mail warning them of the dangers of AIDS. They were an old, monogamous couple with less chance of getting AIDS than getting hit by a meteor. Why was money wasted contacting them instead of trying to reach the promiscuous gay man? Politics of AIDS.

Stephen

The only thing that has worked to prevent AIDS so far was to concentrate on lifestyle. There is no vaccine and no other way to prevent it other than behavior. It was not a mistake to address that. IN fact, other things were distractions.

BillS

It is about a misallocation of resources AND the reason for that big error. You may recall that when anybody tried to discuss AIDS rationally, groups of whistle blowing activists descended on them and disrupted any civil discourse.

My meta-point is that whenever any cause gets to be political, politics, not reason, decides the “truth” and politics will often make poor choices.

Posted by: Jack at November 21, 2007 12:28 AM
Comment #238856

My elderly in-laws got a notice in the mail warning them of the dangers of AIDS. They were an old, monogamous couple with less chance of getting AIDS than getting hit by a meteor. Why was money wasted contacting them instead of trying to reach the promiscuous gay man? Politics of AIDS.

Right, because old people never have sex outside their marriage. You would think Republicans, who seem to have a senator or political pastor involved in some kind of homosexual drug fueled sex scandal every couple of months would stop repeating the myth that it’s obvious who’s gay and not.

If you refrain from certain well known behaviors, you can reduce your chances of getting AIDS to near zero.

And that was exactly the kind of educational campaign put forward. People were told to use condoms - no matter what. I don’t recall the media hyping AIDs as a general malady. I remember people having a lot of misconceptions in general, for instance, that you could get aids by kissing someone or shaking their hand, etc. These fears were also addressed educationally.

As far as I’m concerned, our money and resources spent to fight AIDS was money well spent. Heck, at least it had an impact. I’m still trying to understand why we’ve sunk trillions into the losing proposition that is Iraq. Perhaps, as others have suggested, if just a comparatively little money and time had been spent on really trying to understand the situation we wouldn’t be in this war.


Posted by: Max at November 21, 2007 12:51 AM
Comment #238869

Max,
Apparently in your haste to write a flamer, you misread my post, because you rewrote almost exactly my point.

If the overspending on AIDS media coverage and programs had a fairly good effect on the overall long-term consequences of the VIRUS - BRAVO - Money well spent, that’s basically what I said.

The war in Afghanistan was not waged on Criminal Grounds as you profess however, we went over there to go kick some ass and appease a whole country of pissed off people with dead friends and relatives. We haven’t gotten anything from it besides an ocean of debt and no attacks on our soil in six years.

The war in Iraq was a mistake (I believe), though world-wide intelligence was congruent on the suspicion of WMD’s. Everybody got it wrong. It wasn’t like the whole world was screaming “STOP COWBOY! TAKE IT EASY, WE DON’T THINK THEY HAVE THEM.” Even France thought Saddam had WMD’s, it wasn’t the Big-Brother-Bush-Basher-Media-Machine, and Saddam WAS torturing and killing thousands and thousands of people, and here-here that he hung by the neck. You are right though, the Media Hysteria about WMD’s turned out to be hogwash, and now we have trillions in debt.

Max said: “Did Bush launch an education campaign to understand the enemy?”

Seriously though, and be honest, if someone raped and murdered your wife, how interested would you be in educating yourself about their past and why they might have historical grounds to be a mysoginist and a psychopath? Or would you just want them to fry…?

Posted by: Yukon Jake at November 21, 2007 2:27 AM
Comment #238871


Jack: How does the liberals overestimation of the cost of preventing and treating AIDS compare with the conservatives underestimation of the cost of the war in Iraq? What was the Administrations estimation of the cost of the war, 1.5 billion?

Posted by: jlw at November 21, 2007 2:36 AM
Comment #238877

Kruser,

You should read a few history books on wars and tactics. It is very rare for the expectations beforehand to happen afterward in war. Most results are a complete surprise. Iraq isn’t a matter of incompetence or deception.

WMD in Iraq War were NEVER an expectation but THE justification.
Remember what the White House said: “There is not doubt”, “We know where they are”, blah blah blah. That was NEVER expectation in their mind.

Today what’s a major deception is not the lack of WMDs - which is more relief than anything - but their “incompetence”, to be soft.


I am convinced that Al Gore Would have invaded Iraq given the same 70% favorable polls and congressional support for it and the stages that diplomacy with Saddam had already gone through during the Clinton era. And don’t forget 9/11. Diplomacy had already taken it’s course and Saddam is to blame for the situation in Iraq today.

Yeah, don’t forget Iraq and 9/11 links.
Oh god. Big lies turns into truth!

Posted by: Philippe houdoin at November 21, 2007 5:14 AM
Comment #238878

Yukon Jake,

It wasn’t like the whole world was screaming “STOP COWBOY! TAKE IT EASY, WE DON’T THINK THEY HAVE THEM.” Even France thought Saddam had WMD’s

Then you didn’t listen at all.
The whole world was screaming “STOP COWBOY! TAKE IT EASY, WE DON’T *KNOW* IF THEY HAVE THEM OR NOT”.

And like many, France thought Saddam MIGHT still had WMDs, but always said she didn’t *know* it for sure, as she have no proof.
That why she pushed (strongly, remember that french speech before UNSC in january 2003?) to complete the UN inspections that were under process first. And why she had repeat several time that without actual PROOF there is WMDs, she wont join an agression war against Iraq based on such weakly justification that they *could*.

US decide to go anyway. In hope their fear will be self-proven, that they were right about them.
But they weren’t.

Believe me, the rest of the world is not happy about the output, singing since 4 years “we were right, not them!”. But the rest of the world wont forget either how US chosed to ignore all the warming made.
It seems perfectly logical after going alone against the odds that you now have to face the consequences alone too.

You are right though, the Media Hysteria about WMD’s turned out to be hogwash, and now we have trillions in debt.

Not the “Media” Hysteria about WMD’s but the “Hysteria” about WMD’s. It was not limited to media. How many press reports *from* the White House were on WMDs threat per day in late 2002?

This Hysteria about WMD’s was driven from White House and, in my opinion, on purpose. They were selling the war, which they were planning since years already…

Max said: “Did Bush launch an education campaign to understand the enemy?”

Seriously though, and be honest, if someone raped and murdered your wife, how interested would you be in educating yourself about their past and why they might have historical grounds to be a mysoginist and a psychopath?

Except that Iraq didn’t attack the US…
What? 9/11!?!

Oh. My. God.

Posted by: Philippe houdoin at November 21, 2007 5:40 AM
Comment #238879

Back to usual program…

Jack, how could you be sad that most of the worst predictions doesn’t become true?!
;-)

Many predictions turns into alarmist ones when they’re made because nothing has been made yet to change the course but meanwhile the issues goes into more gears. These alarmist predictions one day becomes the wakeup call needed so people starts to act on change and, how weird, when enough people try to avoid a predicted issue to happened, their collective efforts make a difference.

Did enough people will have starting to fight the HIV spread rate worst predictions if these predictions will have been more soft?

Did the worst predictions will have not happened, whatever people will have done to fight against?

In the end, what matters is the fact that the threat was funded *and* that the action taken actually fix it.

Worst predictions are what allows a group of people fighting against its realization to reach its critical mass. It needs to be seen as a Big Issue, otherwise not enough people would care to do anything about it…

That’s exactly how the White House sale Iraq War to Americans.

Sorry, can’t resist, too much temptation!
;-)

Posted by: Philippe houdoin at November 21, 2007 6:29 AM
Comment #238880

Jack,

My elderly in-laws got a notice in the mail warning them of the dangers of AIDS. They were an old, monogamous couple with less chance of getting AIDS than getting hit by a meteor. Why was money wasted contacting them instead of trying to reach the promiscuous gay man?

I’ll bet that the probability getting hit by a meteor is far less than contracting AIDS via blood transfusion during a visit to an hospital for example.

Plus, you seems to assume that old people never change their sexual behaviors. Old people have sex too. Old people could be homosexual, too. Or bisexual, even. Or become.

Spread the words wide, don’t cherry pick your targets. HIV doesn’t, him.

Posted by: Philippe houdoin at November 21, 2007 6:42 AM
Comment #238886

Jack,

I find it ironic that you mention global warming, for a couple reasons. First of all, every time a report comes out (like the latest IPCC) the problem looks worse. Secondly, you yourself are the advocate pushing for a carbon tax.

Posted by: Woody Mena at November 21, 2007 7:55 AM
Comment #238889

Yukon Jake-
The AIDS numbers were significantly lower than first estimated, and that is a problem, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t and isn’t something to worry about. AIDS remains one of the deadliest diseases on the planet, and is truly insidious in the way it moves beyond at risk populations to those who are merely collateral casualties.

The history (not hysteria) on AIDS was that it was once considered to be the result of some mysterious factor from lifestyle. Originally it was known as Gay Related Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome or GRIDS. The conservatives at the time had little compassion for its suffers, wages of sin and everything, you understand.

Somebody should have reminded them what Jesus said about a lack of compassion, because as it turns out, GRIDS was only marginally about sex, and the disease spread throughout blood transfusions and heterosexual sex to people who weren’t engaging in at risk behavior. GRIDS was AIDS, and it didn’t matter whether you were a good person or not, because it was a virus. The failure to get in front of it in time, though, meant that what could have been kept a small problem was allowed to become a major epidemic.

Sometimes people need to be scared, because the facts merit it. Fear is an appropriate response, given the presence of accurate, well-collected information. At the very least, we have 25 million suffers. That’s eight figures, still not to be sniffed at.

Republicans and those on the right have developed a bad habit of taking skepticism beyond to contrariness when they find discrepancies, even if those discrepancies don’t much change the situation. This might make sense if you’re taking an agressive rhetorical approach to a debate, but it makes no sense if you’re trying to deal with reality. The real question is where does the correction go.

For example, some Global Warming Contrarians recently made a big deal out of a calibration error on American data, saying that it invalidated the global warming theory. A look at the data though, revealed that 1) It was just America, not the world as a whole (global warming, remember) so they were making a mistake themselves in dealing with the significance of the error, 2)1998 US Averages went from being a few hundredths of a degree ahead, to being a few hundredths behind, and 3) The refiguring of the data did absolutely nothing to change the look of the trend that we call global warming.

This gotcha game on credibility has to be played with great care if you’re not aiming to play it with cynical disregard for the truth. In fact, it’s best to remain detached on the matter, rather than looking to sink people with some revelation, because your own desire to eviscerate your opponent might lead you to make an equally erroneous conclusion.

Craig Holmes-
I would advise you against making that claim about global warming. The merits in each case must be judged independently, especially in the the light of the broad scientific acceptance of the numbers.

Kruser-
I’ve read Von Clausewitz’s On War, and Sun Tzu’s Art of War, to start. I’ve also kept track of what people have said about the results of the war. Nearly every time somebody warned about a problem, their dire forecast has come to pass.

These people aren’t simply doing things randomly, they have a purpose in mind. What that purpose is, depends on the enemy in question. We know what they wanted, we know how they are supported.

The real question here, if the surge has done anything, is whether we can maintain that as long as it takes. The answer is no. If the surge is effective, it can only work if the crucial objectives have already been attained. The evidence indicates that we have bought local peace (where it actually exists) at the price of empowering local warlords and politicians. Result? We’ve set up a situation where the peace is even more dependent on us than before. That is not the path to victory, and if we don’t have the troops to keep it going, then we’ve just made the defeat worse.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 21, 2007 8:49 AM
Comment #238892

This actually has an application to the original subject. Take any battle of the civil war, WWI, or II and you will see constant fudging to make up for the enemies moves.

Human predictions are unreliable. Aids, global warming, a country’s response to freedom, men think they know much when they know little.
The aids model was based on the assumption that everyone would countiue the same practices.
The environwacks have finally found an element to bann that has unlimited financial gain. In my lifetime there have been numerous campains against different ones with alarms sounding. Didn’t Al Gore advocate clean coal at one time? Computer models, a human invention, can have one minor thing tweaked to get desired results. They can’t even predict hurricanes.
Man’s ability to predict is so minimal that the winner for the day is the one who happened to have chance on his side.
I

Posted by: Kruser at November 21, 2007 9:38 AM
Comment #238895

Kruser,

Human predictions are unreliable.

I know none others.

Aids, global warming, a country’s response to freedom, men think they know much when they know little.

Or even lie a lot…

The aids model was based on the assumption that everyone would countiue the same practices.

Yeah, assuming that a majority of people will continue to have babies, sex and other corporal fluid exchange on occasion was a weird basis for a predictive model.

Too sad, that was the right thing to do. More than 20 years later, HIV *still* spread.
While his transmission routes remained the same, it could only be explained by the fact that, indeed, a majority of people didn’t change their practices.

The reason they don’t remains the heart of AIDS policy.

Posted by: Philippe houdoin at November 21, 2007 10:01 AM
Comment #238908

Kruser-
It’s not that people aren’t predictable.

The fact that an enemy is after something binds their actions to a certain degree of predictability. They need weapons and ammunition, supplies, food and other basic needs. They need support from some part of the populace, recruits, etc. There’d be no use for strategy if you couldn’t anticipate what people wanted and were going to do.

Strategy is often built on knowing what an enemy wants, having a reasonable idea of how they plan to get it, or how they could get it, and having a notion of how to stop this. It’s not enough in a war to kill the enemy. You must frustrate their purpose. The Republicans, for all their talk of not letting casualties get to them, not letting the problems of the war slow them down, have nonetheless allowed the enemy a great deal of success in frustrating our goals, and attaining theirs. That is how you lose a war, without losing battles most of the time.

Their purpose wasn’t to annihilate our forces, it was to prevent us from successfully replacing the central government in Iraq. They have succeeded. Our own current strategy, which is arming local militias and supposedly former insurgents, is a tacit acknowledgement of the failure to establish this strong central power. Defeat, in this case, is not us walking off the battle field, it’s the fact that whether we stay or go, Iraq is fragmented, and it will take decades for it to recover, if ever.

Because our strategy entails strengthening these potentially adversarial factions, we’re in fact compounding our own failure.

As for Hurricanes? Predicting the weather is theoretically possible, if you know everything, down to the tiniest movement of air. That, though, is impossible, because of this, as predictions go further into the future, they bear less and less resemblance to the real thing.

You talk about models being human inventions, but theories are that way, too. With weather and climate, models are necessary, since we can’t put the whole world in a globe and test it experimentally.

Weather is a determinant system: if you know the past, you know the future. Only problem is, we can’t know the past in enough detail to get around the sensitivity of the system to small influences. You’ve likely heard of the butterfly effect. More or less, this is it.

The chaos, though, has a certain degree of structure, some outcomes more likely than others, though with a certain degree of uncertainty attached to it. We can forecast ahead because of this. Our models incorporate knowledge about the nature of these systems.

Hurricanes can be difficult, because essentially they create their own weather around them. They can, however, be predicted after a certain fashion.

Climate is a different story in both scale and the length of time. It’s also different in what is expected of the model. Climate is the tendencies of the weather averaged over a long period of time. It carries with it the chaotic uncertainties of athospheric physics, but as with weather, it’s got a certain structure to it, as evidenced by the way El Nino interlocks with the North Atlantic Oscillation and the Monsoon rain patterns.

As for models? You don’t understand how competitive science is. Anybody who tried to fudge things unnecessarily would find themselves losing out to somebody who didn’t have to draw “here be dragons” on their weather map.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 21, 2007 12:25 PM
Comment #238912

Stephen:

Craig Holmes- I would advise you against making that claim about global warming. The merits in each case must be judged independently, especially in the the light of the broad scientific acceptance of the numbers.

I will just through out the UN numbers.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 21, 2007 12:33 PM
Comment #238919

Craig Holmes-
And if the UN Numbers are based on credible science? It’s useless to employ politics to decide the merits of science. Somebody within the UN tried a new methodology for determining how many people had AIDS, and they came up with a different number.

Logically speaking, it’s a pretty big fallacy to argue that the failure here means anythign for the IPCC. You’re willing to jump to that conclusion, but how many people could support jumping after you?

One of my big pet peeves about the way the Right handles science is the whole political rigamarole they apply to it, and their tendency to try and invalidate broad swaths of consensus science by accusing scientists of taking their views for political reasons. Worse yet, they take arguments about theory settled by observed fact and experiment, and reopen the argument on the grounds that other theories deserve equal time. It’s bull. If they’re wrong on the facts, its the facts that need to be disputed. If their inference is faulty, show us the fault. But if your only aim is to spread doubt in the general public, then one is little better than a charlatan. The Right in this country needs to stop taking uncritically the word of people whose main expertise is in rhetoric and demagoguery, not science.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 21, 2007 12:57 PM
Comment #238920

Woody

I am a reasonable man who seeks reasonable solutions. I have seen too much hysteria to be carried away by it. I recall the population bomb, global cooling, nuclear winter, the limits of growth (running out of raw materials) etc.

Global warming is a serious problem. It should be addressed in a serious way. But when the hysterics take charge, they start proposing stupid and unsustainable solutions.

The carbon tax, increased use of nuclear power and reasonable development of alternatives will address the problem. We CANNOT stop global warming entirely. There is already enough CO2 in the air to warm the earth. We have to begin to adapt. Building codes are a good place to start. Do not rebuild places that flood. Move up hill. Biotechnology can help develop plant strains adapted to the changed climates. It will be a challenge, but it will not be the end of the world, the end of civilization or even the end of our way of life.

Max

We are talking probabilities. Some married couples in their 80s are probably swingers, but your efforts would probably be best spent other places.

Maybe it is just a Republicans thing, but I have been married for 26 years and never had sex with anybody other than my wife during that time. Even if you figure a person strays occasionally, it still does not raise the chance of AIDS to the level of a plague, as we have seen. AIDS is common among people who have some behaviors and very uncommon among most others. Do you think that is a mere coincidence?

Compare this to lung cancer. Many non-smokers get lung cancer, but if you are doing an education program, you spend most of your time and energy on smokers. Why? Doctors do not routinely check young men for prostate cancer. Why? Sometimes profiling makes sense.

Re education campaign, condoms work only some of the time. You don’t want to lull people into false security. It is just not a good idea to be promiscuous and to engage in some sorts of behaviors, no matter what sort of protection you have.

I stipulate that AIDS was and remains a serious problem. But was not and is not the apocalyptical threat we have been led to believe. Many more people die each year from heart troubles, cancers etc. We spend a fortune per AIDS case that might be better spent on other diseases.

Jlw

Getting into Iraq was in many ways also the result of hysteria. You may recall that Bush had an approval rating of around 80% at the time. It was a general push much like AIDS. It was also a mistake to do Iraq the way we did. Passionate intensity is almost always bad.

Phillipe

Hysteria leads to a misallocation of resources. AIDS was a hysteria and it did just that. Iraq was too. In both cases a vast majority of people believed something that was not completely true and they pushed others to the side.

AIDS, BTW, does cherry pick. Somebody in a monogamous relationship has essentially no chance of getting AIDS. A promiscuous person who practices certain forms of sex is almost a certain victim. It is behavior based.

The majority of people, BTW, do not engage in such behaviors. That is why AIDS never became a general plague and why it remains predictably concentrated.

Our blood supply has been AIDS free for decades. At first it was a very bad problem, but that was quickly solved.

Posted by: Jack at November 21, 2007 12:59 PM
Comment #238932

Judging decisions on hindsight is always a hundred per cent game.
We will just wait, do a little arm chair generalizing and then criticize what happened in the past. It sure is easy to look back and make canalizations of all wars in history. You obviously have to update strategy for the era. This includes the modern terrorist based war. This is always a trial and error process. (Not trial and quit).
When in ten years the warming cycle ebbs, we will find another consensus on another scape goat. I am sure it will be blamed on capitalists. Maybe oxygen? Why don’t we get rid of the converters in our cars and make monoxide instead of C02?

Posted by: Kruser at November 21, 2007 1:58 PM
Comment #238935

Jack said: “The AIDS establishment pushed the idea that it was a very general malady, when in fact it is behavior based.”

Man, Jack, your comment has a black hole of ignorance in it.

AIDS was also being transmitted via blood transfusions and pregnancy. Which posed a serious threat to the elderly and unborn whom were far less likely to contract the disease through behavior if at all. And if the scare had not been raised, the impetus to change blood donor screenings and pre-natal screenings would have been seriously delayed.

Sexual behavior was not the only way to contract AIDS. Blood for transfusions especially during catastrophe’s was being transported around the world to places in need. The potential for world wide spread was real. And no nation on earth exists today without having had AIDS introduced into its population. The import of these facts could not be understated, nor the alarm that was raised.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 21, 2007 2:06 PM
Comment #238939

Stephen:

And if the UN Numbers are based on credible science?

It’s very hard to tell. The UN has always looked a bit like the bar scene on Star Wars.

Hopelessly corrupt and self serving.

One of my big pet peeves about the way the Right handles science is the whole political rigamarole they apply to it, and their tendency to try and invalidate broad swaths of consensus science by accusing scientists of taking their views for political reasons.

That is because it is true many times. There is a serious motive issue. With Global warming, there will be billions of dollars for research to the winners.

It was the same with AIDS. We can look back at how we handled the AIDS issue. Science governed a part of the research for sure, but I would love to see allocations based on science. Fear produced large grants far out of balance of science.

I expect the same thing in our democratic congress. I don’t accept your lecture on how the right handles science.

Unitl I see a $3/gal tax on gasoline proposed I will thing the left is full or you know what.

I do expect liberal professors to receive a windfall in grants though!!

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 21, 2007 2:30 PM
Comment #238942

Stephen:

And if the UN Numbers are based on credible science?

It’s very hard to tell. The UN has always looked a bit like the bar scene on Star Wars.

Hopelessly corrupt and self serving.

One of my big pet peeves about the way the Right handles science is the whole political rigamarole they apply to it, and their tendency to try and invalidate broad swaths of consensus science by accusing scientists of taking their views for political reasons.

Been here before. We are at 20 years or so since the scientific community forcast and AID’s doomsday.

Science often conludes from data what they believed in the first place. Time however usually is telling.

On global warming, the jury is still out with me. It’s not denial as much as seeing science used politically or even emotionally (AIDS again) to have responses that over time look a out of proportion.

You are big on science great. Show me what scientists were predicting 100 years ago about our world and lets take a look!!

Actually lets look at predictions closer to our discussion here. Let’s look as what “science” predicted say in 1990 about HIV/AIDS and how much has come true.

We can then with intelligence predict how much weight we should put on the current fear over global warming.

how accurate were the UN predictions made in say 1990 on HIV/AIDS by the scientific community?

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 21, 2007 2:48 PM
Comment #238953

Stephen:

Here is an example of science.

http://www.fumento.com/pozaids.html

Get a load of all of the different organizations informing the US citizenship of the terrible AIDS epidemic to come that never came.

Excuse me but, why in the world would I not think the same for global warming? It’s the same process, the same “type of people”. Just cut an past “AIDS epidemic” with “Global warming”.

We can learn a great deal from, The war in Iraq, the myth of the AIDS disaster, and Global warming.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 21, 2007 5:39 PM
Comment #238954

Jack,

AIDS was a hysteria and it did just that. Iraq was too. In both cases a vast majority of people believed something that was not completely true and they pushed others to the side.

You mean that AIDS being a major disease worldwide is not true?! Are you contesting it’s pandemic and deadly?
I fear you’re seeing this disease from a national lens.

AIDS, BTW, does cherry pick.

Sorry, HIV *doesn’t* cherry pick his targets: he infect all of them, whatever the route (the exposing behavior) it take him to get there.

Behaviors is not the cause of HIV infection but only the resulting probabilistic distribution of the different transmission routes used by virus.

If tomorrow the virus mute so he can travel through epidermic route, the new most exposing behavior will be handshaking, but the cause of AIDS will remains the HIV exposition, not the new route he now could take.

Saying it’s a behaviors based disease sounds like blaming people for being too stupid to get infected.
Say that to an HIV positive baby (er, never mind he wont understand you anyway). Say that to the monogamous woman who get it from his cheating guy. Say that to the 30% of women worldwide whose first sexual experience was forced or coerced. Say that to Africans who get it because they’re told condoms are evil but nothing about STD. Say that to all people worldwide who never were informed about the exposing behaviors to avoid.

Only the people who knows they’re HIV positive (and HIV is latent for months, undetectable, remember?), were well informed on the risky behaviors *but* still behave irresponsibly are to blame here. All the others are plain victims.

And I strongly doubt that only a minority of the 38 millions infected people worldwide are. In 2007, saying most people get infected only because they’re too stupid to avoid virus exposure is plain obscurantism!

The majority of people, BTW, do not engage in such behaviors. That is why AIDS never became a general plague and why it remains predictably concentrated.

First, heterosexual intercourse is the most frequent transmission route taken by the HIV - no, it’s not promiscuous homosexuality -, plainly because it’s the most frequent corporal fluid exchange between two peoples. Are you saying most human are not anymore heterosexual?

Second, it doesn’t became worst because the virus hasn’t mute into a more contagious form.
On the worldwide scale, *unprotected* sexual intercourse remains and by far margin the most frequent corporal fluid exchange between peoples, which explain why HIV *continues* to spread.

If a majority of people around the world actually didn’t engage anymore in such exposing behaviors, it will have a very visible impact on the pandemic . Which is yet to be seen. 40% less than expected NEW infections remains NEW infections.

Our blood supply has been AIDS free for decades. At first it was a very bad problem, but that was quickly solved.

Again, this is through a westerner lens.
Pandemic, by definition, is a worldwide epidemic.
And I doubt blood supply are HIV tested everywhere, as it’s quite costly for many third world nations. Anyway, while it’s the most exposing act, it’s not the most frequent one. Not enough to declare this issue solved, alas.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at November 21, 2007 5:46 PM
Comment #238955

Craig Holmes,

Actually lets look at predictions closer to our discussion here. Let’s look as what “science” predicted say in 1990 about HIV/AIDS and how much has come true.

In the 90’s they predicted it will goes pandemic.
In 2007, it’s a still an increasing pandemic.

What a bunch of idiots, right?

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at November 21, 2007 5:56 PM
Comment #238972

What do you mean HIV “cherry picks” its victims?

There are several sources that claim HIV will kill those succeptible and then die out. They also claim it is not in a pathogen’s interest to wipe out its host population. Both of these are rediculous for several reasons.

First, who is succeptible? Are you in danger? Are you one of those who cannot be killed by AIDS? No study shows a mutation in humans that is AIDS resistant. In addition, if these postulates are true and one percent of the human race isn’t in danger from the AIDS pandemic, does that mean the rest are cannon fodder to feed the disease?

Second, sure…if a disease wipes out its host population it will probably die out. However, does AIDS have a concious choice to make when it comes to the number and type of humans to infect. NO, it is a disease and mutates to survive through natural selection. It doesn’t know if the humans are running out and therefore can’t suddenly decide to stop itself from infecting anyone else.

Third, the argument that the spread of AIDS is the result of some “behavior” that can be avoided is stupid. Sure, safe sexual practices reduce the risk of contracted a sexually transmitted disease. Safe sex practices also don’t result in reproduction. Are you suggesting that we should stop reproducing so the disease stops reproducing? Good plan, no kids until everyone with AIDS is dead. Above I mentioned that successful and affordable treatment exists. Why the budget allocated to USAID isn’t being expanded further is beyond me, though many use the excuse of “necessary” fiscal discipline to delay inevitable action.

Of course some people started a hype and wanted to scare people about a potential US crisis. It creates interest, ratings go up, and people get excited. It that a reason to ignore a potent threat to millions of lives. That’s like saying, “If they told me 50 million would die in ten years ago and only 35 million have died, I should dismiss the concept that anything is going on and forget it ever was discussed.” I hope that sounds as rediculous to you as it does to me.

By the way, rates of sexual activity in foreign countries by United States armed forces during deployments are about 60%, with only 1/3 of them using protection.

AIDS deniers should be shown the dire consequences their indifference has wrought on the African continent. Not future consequences, even though it could get worse, but what has alreay happened. Brazil is an AIDS success story. It proves the idea that highly infected areas are beyond hope is also bunk. Excuses concerning infrastructure, corruption, and education barriers are part of a rascist outlook on Africa by American citizens. If those are good reasons to withold help to those in need, why did we send money to New Orleans after Katrina? Certainly the AIDS pandemic is a hundred times worse the effects of a hurricane.

The benefits of taken a decisive leadership position on the pandemic in Africa would also have enormous benefits for United States international relations. Showing we are commited in action as well as in speech will reach out to other countries using us as an excuse to withold aid. A 100% push toward helping the African continent would greatly increase our waning influence in those nations. I would even go so far as to say that the benefits of such action could potentially secure us oil supplies that China currently has a stranglehold on because they have sent a 1/2 million doctors to Africa already.

An allocation in the order of $100 billion dollars over the next ten years for ARV treatment provided free of charge to NGO’s and/or governments should be passed immedietly.

Posted by: Right Now...please at November 21, 2007 8:21 PM
Comment #238979

Right Now…please,

Thanks, for a few hours I was thinking I was the only one quite shocked about this HIV cherry/picking on behaviors basis non-sense.

Jack, most of the time I found your position reasonable and well informed even if I don’t always agreed with your conclusion. But this time is a rare occasion of disappointment.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at November 21, 2007 10:03 PM
Comment #238992

Philippe:


What I take from this is that there is a huge margin of error in scientific predictions. For instance I think if we were to look back further to the 1970’s and look at “science” my guess is that oil would be at $200/barrel. If we look at AIDs predictions they were off the chart. Of course AIDS is serious but we can still eat in restraunts. The same is true for global warming. Does the environment change? Of course it always has and always will. It will take a long time before we will see how much of global warming is real and how much his hype. Time will reveal all.

I suspect that just as we have energy issues and AIDS issues today although at a much reduced rate that science predicted, so we will have global warming, but not the crisis and hysteria that is in the press today.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 22, 2007 12:13 AM
Comment #238993

David

The blood problem was recognized and addressed very quickly in the epidemic. If blood transfusion was the only way to transmit AIDS, there would be very few cases of the disease. That was an entirely appropriate action.

I am not saying AIDS is not serious, but when it got into the hands of activists some of the truth got lost. For example, AIDS became a civil right issue instead of a medical one and rights to privacy trumped other rights. We also spent way more on AIDS than on other diseases that kill more people. It was a hysteria and a hysteria whipped up by special interests.

Phillipe

I did not mean that disease itself cherry picks, but it is undeniably true that most people lower their risk of AIDS to near zero by refraining from a well known set of behaviors. That is the way AIDS is very different from almost any other epidemic. That got lost in the general hysteria. I recall seeing people interviewed lamenting if they would be next, when the solution was always in their own hands. It might be good to emphasis that so they could make the right choices, rather than play the whole thing up as an unavoidable plague.

Re promiscuous sex, yes it is the problem. It is plain statistics. AIDS is not transmitted 100% of the time. Not everybody has AIDS. If a couple is faithful, they have essentially zero chance of getting AIDS. The chances rise with each additional partner until the risk rises very high of encountering somebody with AIDS. It is actually very much like playing Russian roulette. If a person never plays, he is safe. The more times he does, the better chance of the fatal shot.

The other thing that is true of any disease is that the average victim must spread the disease to two or more people for the epidemic to grow. If it spreads one to one, the epidemic stabilizes and if on average it spread to less than one, it begins to decline. In a reasonably monogamous situation, transmission of stds is slow. Even ordinary venereal disease tends to be concentrated in particular populations and is rare in others for this reason.

BTW – there is no such thing as safe sex. People have long used condoms incorrectly or had failures.

Right now

The U.S. is already by far the biggest AIDS donor in Africa and the biggest researcher worldwide. George Bush vastly increased AIDS funding. We deserve a lot of credit, but we do not get much. The world does not pay attention to these things because it is distracted by the rhetoric.

Let me repeat again – AIDS is a serious problem. The hysteria surrounding AIDS did not help and may have hindered the effective response. An early quarantine, for example, might have slowed the spread in the U.S., but when AIDS became a civil rights issue that option was foreclosed.

We also took the wrong path by pretending the epidemic was equally dangerous to everybody. What we had and still have is a well defined high risk group. That is where we should spend our money and time. If some groups have 60% infection rates and others have 1%, should you treat them the same? Do we consider smokers and non-smokers the same group for lung cancer efforts?

When we get hystrical, we make bad choices. I am only asking that we properly assess the risks and responses rather than treat the whole thing like a existential crisis.

Posted by: Jack at November 22, 2007 12:20 AM
Comment #239022

Jack

When you refer to vast increases in AIDS funding by Bush are you talking about the expansion of PEPFAR, the AIDS clause in the Water for the Poor Act, or the general AIDS budget of USAID?

I’m curious because I’ve looked at the charts presented to Congress on all three of these. Your view that there was huge increases and vast change reflects the media spin on a big presentation by our government. In reality, as I stated above, the USAID has no definite budget written sector that is AIDS specific, the Water for the Poor Act has AIDS written in as a possible additional benefit of improving water conditions, and the PEPFAR money wasn’t an increase, it was just account management.

On a side note, the Water for the Poor Act hasn’t even achieved its main goal, let alone all the possible side effects. Only 2 of its 7 benchmarks have been met. Those two outline the establishment of boards and the creation of scenarios, no action. It was passed four years ago.

You responded to both Phillipe and myself by saying that there were and are a well known set of behaviors that caused the spread of HIV and a risk group could be identified. You are absolutely right. That behavior is called sex. What percent of our population participates in that activity? I know, lets “quarantine” that group.

This leads into my next point. The idea that we can identify, conduct extensive tests, and study different infected people assumes the United States as the place of action. Why this assumption? We all know Africa is the place where AIDS is killing without opposition. It can be traced to rascism. Every time the discussion of AIDS comes up there are many who say we need to sit down and carefully consider the status of AIDS. Again, the status of AIDS in the United States is incertain. In Africa it is clear, it is rampant.

Also, the idea that discussion and additional information is necessary is infinitely regressive because people are dying now. I’m not doing anything rash by saying we need to help. What I’m advocating is the saving of lives, regardless of nationality or “behaviors.”

35 million dead people is a big deal. There are 2.5 million new infections predicted yearly, and that’s a conservative estimate. Accusations of hysterical behavior and decision making is the model of indifference toward those who can’t eat in a restaurant and are scared to shake hands.

Please consider the Ameri-centric attitude that is guiding your view of patience and assessment, as well as risk group identification.

Posted by: Right Now...please at November 22, 2007 11:28 AM
Comment #239026

Right Now, your conclusions are premised on the implicit assumption that there is no amount of population growth on this planet too great to sustain.

As biological science teaches, nature has ways of bringing overpopulation back to sustainable levels. Disease transmission in crowded populations is one of those self-correcting mechanisms. Which begs the non-religious question, isn’t the way to save lives and reduce the threats by communicable diseases in the long term, to reduce intense crowding by the human species and provide more space between them and their population centers?

A dramatic increase in tele-commuting to and from work, and decrease in physical commuting to work centers, could yield a dramatic decrease in, and far better management of, communicable disease in our future.

There are a host of other benefits from such strategies as well. But, they are not on the political radar. Why is that, do you think?

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 22, 2007 11:53 AM
Comment #239047

David,

You’re talking about a Malthus type ‘death check’ argument that could apply to things like war, famine, disease, and genocide. However, citing the possible benefits of disease or the reasons disease has to exist for life to continue are completely seperate from the moral obligation we all have to save the lives of other humans. Disease happens but that doesn’t mean we don’t fight it.

The strategies you suggest for decreased human contact among large groups of strangers are wonderful, but have no benefits when it comes to AIDS, the topic of this thread. That, as I’ve reminded people several times in previous posts, is sexually transmitted. Will tele-commuting keep people from going to a bar and leaving with someone they know they’ll never see again after that night?

As to your question about politics and what gets on the radar, I think you already know the answer. Many of your posts in the independent’s column criticize short-term goals and short-term thinking by politicians for quick gains and material results. Naturally this explains the short-term approach to disease as well. However beneficial some of your lifestyle changes would be in general disease control, it does not address the AIDS pandemic in the slightest. It especially fails to address how many of those strategies wouldn’t work in countries without some of the technologies your ideas would require to implement.

Posted by: Right Now...please at November 22, 2007 9:30 PM
Comment #239062
Will tele-commuting keep people from going to a bar and leaving with someone they know they’ll never see again after that night?

Nope and in fact it’ll make it more frequent. Far from eye, far from heart.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at November 23, 2007 5:20 AM
Comment #239068

Right Now said: “That, as I’ve reminded people several times in previous posts, is sexually transmitted.”

And you reiterate your error. Is it sex to receive a transfusion? Is it sex to share needles for addiction? Is it sex to deliver a baby? Sex is not the only way it is transmitted.

But, that error is not the point. The point is, it is not ethical for humans to overpopulate themselves. Overpopulation increases costs (sending food to African areas without food, water in the Western U.S., and energy cost rises increasing poverty), creates war and violence (Sudan and Darfur, Bangladesh), causes mass relocation hardships (Indonesia and Sudan), mismatch of basic necessity resources and population numbers (sub-Saharan Africa and clean water - food), and creates enormous targets for death and loss by other natural catastrophic events (Katrina & Andrew).

Nearly all that death, hardship, starvation, dehydration, dislocation, and poverty could be alleviated or eliminated with reductions in human population growth and numbers voluntarily, instead of letting natural consequences of over-population cull the numbers instead. Allowing nature to cull human population with such suffering indicates humans act with no more foresight or conscience or morality or ethics than a herd of Caribou or termites. We have the mental capacity for moral and ethical behavior, but, we lack the political infrastructure and educational systems to live up to it. That is in our province to change. But, we don’t.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 23, 2007 2:08 PM
Comment #239074

David:

The point is, it is not ethical for humans to overpopulate themselves. Overpopulation increases costs (sending food to African areas without food, water in the Western U.S., and energy cost rises increasing poverty), creates war and violence (Sudan and Darfur, Bangladesh), causes mass relocation hardships (Indonesia and Sudan), mismatch of basic necessity resources and population numbers (sub-Saharan Africa and clean water - food), and creates enormous targets for death and loss by other natural catastrophic events (Katrina & Andrew).

Most developing countries on on that path now. Especially Europe. World population growth is slowing and is expected to top out I think in 2070. Anywho, population growth peaked at about 2% a year and has been declining since that time.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 23, 2007 3:38 PM
Comment #239112

David,

you advocate birth control through education along with other action. I am advocating free drugs to Africa to combat the AIDS death toll. The two do not compete with each other. The only point I contested was the suggestion that we control disease by spreading out the population. That might be a good idea too, but it doesn’t solve AIDS. Additionally, I am aware of the different ways the HIV pathogen spreads. It is true that is Russia heroine users are the primary victims of AIDS through contaminated needles, but in Africa and South-East Asia the primary means of infection are sexual.

You claim an ethical advantage to birth control and I’m claiming an ethical imperative to combat disease. Wouldn’t the MOST ethical thing to do, therefore, be both?

Posted by: Right Now...please at November 24, 2007 11:04 AM
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