Sunday, October 25, 2020

Herd Mentality

 Heterophemy (noun): The use of a word different from the one intended.


“You’ll develop like a herd mentality,” Trump said, almost certainly meaning herd immunity. “It’s going to be, going to be herd-developed and that’s going to happen.” (Trump speaking at a Townhall: September 15, 2020) NY Magazine



Herd Mentality*


Two dozen or more people have come to the Trump Administration from Fox Media or left the Trump Administration to join Fox Media.  And many, who have never left Fox but remain as network employees, also currently act as advisors to the President who monitors their programs on television and speaks often with them by phone.  


The latest added associate has been Dr. Scott Atlas who, having found a willing ear for a Hoover Institution senior fellow’s medically pedigreed endorsements of reopening schools, opening businesses, and ignoring aspects of careful social distancing as well as behaviors earlier advanced by Drs. Birx and Fauci, is finding a regular place on the dais with President Trump.  


According to Media Bias/Fact Check: ”Overall, we rate (Stanford’s)Hoover Institution Right-Center biased based on economic positions that align with the conservative right, coupled with left-leaning libertarian social stances. We also rate them High for factual reporting due to a clean fact check record.”


A YouTube Q & A with Dr. Atlas and the head of the Hoover Institution at Stanford will give you a possibly clearer look at how his particular take on the economic policies and medical philosophies merge: 


As for the medical faculty at Stanford, the response to Dr. Atlas’ descriptions of needed policies in the White House left them with what they believed no choice but to respond – and strongly.  On September 9, 2020, nearly 100 members of the medical faculty signed a published letter to criticize the proposals and involvement of Dr. Scott Atlas with the Trump Administration’s revised direction for addressing the pandemic. 


September 9, 2020


As infectious diseases physicians and researchers, microbiologist and immunologists, epidemiologists and health policy leaders, we stand united in efforts to develop and promote science-based solutions that advance human health and prevent suffering from the coronavirus pandemic. In this pursuit, we share a commitment to a basic principle derived from the Hippocratic Oath: Primum Non Nocere (First, Do No Harm). 

To prevent harm to the public’s health, we also have both a moral and an ethical responsibility to call attention to the falsehoods and misrepresentations of science recently fostered by Dr. Scott Atlas, a former Stanford Medical School colleague and current senior fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University. Many of his opinions and statements run counter to established science and, by doing so, undermine public-health authorities and the credible science that guides effective public health policy. The preponderance of data, accrued from around the world, currently supports each of the following statements: 

  •  The use of face masks, social distancing, handwashing and hygiene have been shown to substantially reduce the spread of Covid-19. Crowded indoor spaces are settings that significantly increase the risk of community spread of SARS-CoV-2. 
  •  Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 frequently occurs from asymptomatic people, including children and young adults, to family members and others. Therefore, testing asymptomatic individuals, especially those with probable Covid-19 exposure is important to break the chain of ongoing transmission. 
  •  Children of all ages can be infected with SARS-CoV-2.While infection is less common in children than in adults, serious short-term and long-term consequences of Covid-19 are increasingly described in children and young people. 
  •  The pandemic will be controlled when a large proportion of a population has developed immunity (referred to as herd immunity) and that the safest path to herd immunity is through deployment of rigorously evaluated, effective vaccines that have been approved by regulatory agencies. 
  • In contrast, encouraging herd immunity through unchecked community transmission is not a safe public health strategy.  In fact, this approach would do the opposite, causing a significant increase in preventable cases, suffering and death, especially among vulnerable populations, such as older individuals and essential workers.


Commitment to science-based decision making is a fundamental obligation of public health policy.  The rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the U.S., with consequent morbidity and mortality, are among the highest in the world.  The policy response to this pandemic must reinforce the science, including that evidence-based prevention and the safe development, testing and delivery of efficacious therapies and preventive measures, including vaccines represent the safest path forward.  Failure to follow the science – or deliberately misrepresenting the science – will lead to immense avoidable harm.

We believe that social and economic activity can reopen safely, if we follow policies that are consistent with science.  In fact, the countries that have reopened businesses and schools safely are those that have implemented the science-based strategies outlined above.

As Stanford faculty with expertise in infectious diseases, epidemiology and health policy, our signatures support this statement with the hope that our voices affirm scientific, medical and public health approaches that promote the safety of our communities and nation.  

98 Signatures followed.

Atlas took umbrage at the idea that he was espousing a pathway to herd immunity which would require the deaths of many more Americans than we are now witnessing.  On the other hand, Atlas has denied advocating the benefits of herd immunity after telling Fox News in July, "These people getting the infection is not really a problem, and in fact, as we said months ago, when you isolate everyone, including all the healthy people, you're prolonging the problem because you’re preventing population immunity. Low-risk groups getting the infection is not a problem. In fact, it's a positive."  


Even as we in the Midwest witness surging numbers of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths, Dr.Fauci and Dr. Birx have departed stage left, and enter Scott Atlas stage right to echo Trump’s message that we are turning the corner. 


In the interim, Dr. Atlas decided to fight back legally.  Retaining a lawyer, Atlas’ legal advisor Kasowitz on September 16 of 2020 demanded “ immediate press release withdrawing your letter and that you contact every media outlet worldwide that has reported on it to request an immediate correction” of the defaming letter or by September 18 we will take appropriate measures…”seek compensatory punitive damages for the harm you have caused.”  


It would appear that the medical staff at Stanford was not moved.  The response came quickly.    


September 23, 2020


Dear Colleagues,


We are a group of 105 doctors, scientists, and public health experts and faculty members at Stanford University who, on September 9pth, expressed our serious concerns about statements made by Scott Atlas, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford and now an advisor to the White House Coronavirus Task Force.  We believe that his statements and the advice he has been giving foster misunderstandings of established science and risks undermining critical public health efforts. 


Today, we stand by our September 9th letter and reaffirm our concerns.  In addition, we are deeply troubled by the legal threats that Dr. Atlas has made against us in an attempt to intimidate and silence us in the midst of a pandemic, as we speak out on important public health issues.


We stand together and we reiterate clearly and with great affirmation that public health policy must be guided by established scientific principles and not opinions, especially ones that could harm individuals and the health of our nation.


And so it goes on. If Trump finds himself flustered or less adored than the individual standing next to him, he replaces them with one of the herd of sycophants and hangers-on from Fox Media.  They’re faux economists, environmentalists, politicians, money-managers, not competent/caring humans. His bottomless ego is momentarily quieted until he tires of them. Or they gain favored status, and we will start over again – even as hundreds of thousands or more suffer needlessly. 



“The dark and distant drumming
The pounding of the hooves
The silence of everything that moves
Late at night you'll see them
Decked out in shiny jewels
The coming of the caravan of fools.”



Musical artist John Prine was one of 225 thousand Americans 

who died of Covid this year.*


1 comment:

  1. "They’re faux economists, environmentalists, politicians, money-managers, not competent/caring humans."
    Larry Kudlow, Rudi Giuliani, and so many more of his appointees are truly competent at destroying what they were sent to dismantle and/or destroy. None of this is acceptable in a sane world. It is the new normal in our abnormal world of smoke and mirrors, hatred and threats, dog and pony shows labeled as debates, anger and intimidation, along with corruption as government.