Why Science Works

The chloroquine theory. Some real data, and an explanation of how and why it doesn’t work.

Thanks, Glenn for this.

Hopefully this takes some of air out of the hype machine:

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.16.20065920v1

368 patients evaluated (all of them male, all over age 65, all veterans because that's where the data came from):

In this study, we found no evidence that use of hydroxychloroquine, either with or without azithromycin, reduced the risk of mechanical ventilation in patients hospitalized with Covid-19. An association of increased overall mortality was identified in patients treated with hydroxychloroquine alone.

One interesting point this study does clarify; the original interest in chloroquine was because it is demonstrably effective in a petri dish; stops SARS-CoV-2 dead in its tracks. The difference is in a petri dish, they were getting concentrations of 4.5-17 µM, but the safe range in a human is around 1 µM. Trying to replicate the petri dish concentrations in living humans resulted in patients dying faster than COVID-19 would have killed them.

Self-Isolation

I self-isolated first.

Late last year I deleted, or thought I deleted, my Facebook page. With that act, I cut myself off from over 90% of my daily social interaction. I had not realised at the time how significant this was.

I kept my Eric TDuck page, and my blogs, but they do not involve any conversations with others. That’s just me talking. I really don’t think many are listening. There is very little feedback, or indeed much indication that anyone reads my blog. Most of the ‘likes’ I get are from self interested bloggers pushing a product and farming followers.

It was not until a visit from my best and oldest friend, followed pretty quickly by the Coronavirus issue, that I realised how much my sanity depended on social interaction. Chatting, joking and exchanging views. And it was appalling to realise how much of the social interaction in my life was now virtual, with friends scattered across several countries, and very few physically nearby. That is, less than a week’s drive away.

Social distancing as a result of COVID19 did not change my life one iota.

If I plotted the location of all the friends with whom I stay in touch on a map of the world using blue dots for all those I have at some time actually met and interacted with, and green for those I’ve met through Facebook and never seen in person, by far the greatest number would be green, and the greatest concentration of blue would be around the great southern area of Western Australia. How did that happen?

Even so, it was through Facebook and Messenger that I had stayed in contact with most of these friends. I speak on the phone to only a few. I don’t write letters, and only a few emails. So. By deleting my Facebook page I had cut myself off from almost all of my friends, as well as the sexist, racist, fascist, ignorant twats who had driven me to despair.

The old nose and face conundrum.

I was surprised when, after following a news link which led to a Facebook post, I was offered the chance to log in as Eric TDuck (expected) or as myself (not expected).

So I got my page back. It seems I hadn’t deleted it. And with the return to sharing my thoughts, jokes, photos and political opinions came immediate conviviality and good wishes plus a little bit of the sanity I hadn’t realised I was losing.

Lockdown Diary pt 2

I’ve been visiting the bottle store much more frequently lately, for essential supplies.

So often, in fact, that my farewell comment has become “See you as soon as I sober up”.

A Gordon for me,
A Gordon for me,
If yer nae a Gordon
Yer nae use tae me…

One Forward, Two Back

I’ve been driving the cruiser to the pool the last few days. I did not think I could pedal the bike. Today I thought I could and set off with a light heart and a cheerful smile.

I think I can, I think I can… i did. I thought I could.

By the time I arrived at the pool I was twinging a bit. 95 minutes of swimming followed, accompanied by Vivaldi, Gershwin, Altan, Paul Brady, Steeleye Span and Pink. Music makes it easy. That little MP3 player is worth its weight in niobium. Even if I have to stop periodically to blow into the earplugs and reseat them in my ear canal after water infiltrates and muffles the music.

When I emerged from the pool, however, I could barely walk. A reviving cappuccino and a hot shower did not help at all, then off to Aldi for fresh vegetables. Once on the bike I found I could not pedal at all. My calves and thighs were the problem, not my knees. Movement was excruciating. So I dangled my legs, switched to medium assist, and flicked on the accelerator. The bike did all the work. At Aldi I limped around leaning on a trolley and bought a cauli, some baby carrots and half a butternut. And a key lime pie. I deserve it.

By the time I got home the battery was down to 25%. And I found I could not get off the bike. I felt like a helpless old cripple. In the end I dismounted by undertaking a controlled fall while hanging on to the support strut of the awning. I’ll pick the bike up later. I only just got inside with the groceries. Coffee and painkillers. Maybe a nap next until they kick in. Brunch can wait. The key lime pie is thawing on the bench. I couldn’t bend over to put it in the fridge. It’s times like this I get nervous. I’m only 68 for fuck’s sake.

Spare a Thought

Spare a thought for my friends in Katanning, who are on a watch and wait, as fires burn all around. The water bombers are flying constantly. Everyone is packed and ready, but in which direction can they flee?

Photo sent by Jennifer Dowling.

Not with a Bang, Nor with a Whimper

https://www.thedailybeast.com/get-ready-for-more-coronavirus-nightmares-thanks-to-climate-change

Not with a bang, nor with a whimper

But a sneeze, Mr Eliot

Or gushing bowels, or vomit

Or blood from every aperture

With our children asking “Why?”

That changes the day’s mood somewhat.

The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot

Mistah Kurtz-he dead
            A penny for the Old Guy

I

    We are the hollow men
    We are the stuffed men
    Leaning together
    Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
    Our dried voices, when
    We whisper together
    Are quiet and meaningless
    As wind in dry grass
    Or rats’ feet over broken glass
    In our dry cellar

    Shape without form, shade without colour,
    Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

    Those who have crossed
    With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
    Remember us-if at all-not as lost
    Violent souls, but only
    As the hollow men
    The stuffed men.

II

    Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
    In death’s dream kingdom
    These do not appear:
    There, the eyes are
    Sunlight on a broken column
    There, is a tree swinging
    And voices are
    In the wind’s singing
    More distant and more solemn
    Than a fading star.

    Let me be no nearer
    In death’s dream kingdom
    Let me also wear
    Such deliberate disguises
    Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
    In a field
    Behaving as the wind behaves
    No nearer-

    Not that final meeting
    In the twilight kingdom

III

    This is the dead land
    This is cactus land
    Here the stone images
    Are raised, here they receive
    The supplication of a dead man’s hand
    Under the twinkle of a fading star.

    Is it like this
    In death’s other kingdom
    Waking alone
    At the hour when we are
    Trembling with tenderness
    Lips that would kiss
    Form prayers to broken stone.

IV

    The eyes are not here
    There are no eyes here
    In this valley of dying stars
    In this hollow valley
    This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

    In this last of meeting places
    We grope together
    And avoid speech
    Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

    Sightless, unless
    The eyes reappear
    As the perpetual star
    Multifoliate rose
    Of death’s twilight kingdom
    The hope only
    Of empty men.

V

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.


Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Picture

Picture

Picture

Picture

Sociology

OPINION

Climate change splits the public into six groups. Understanding them is key to future action

ABC Radio National By Rebecca Huntley for Big Ideas

Updated Wed at 10:14am

A young girl holds a sign that says "stop gambling with our future" during a climate change rally.

PHOTO: We must create a chorus of different communities demanding a viable future. (Getty: Mark Evans)RELATED STORY: I debunked undying climate change myths so you don’t have toRELATED STORY: The two climate change conversations we need to have at the same timeRELATED STORY: As Australia burns, Scott Morrison is rattling off an alibiRELATED STORY: How to see through the climate change rhetoric: a pocket guide to the basics

In Australia there is now widespread public acceptance of the reality of climate change; we seem to see its effects almost hourly.

But the electorate still votes for political parties with environment policies that I would call recalcitrant, and with significant groups of climate deniers in their ranks.

The issue of climate change has become a battle of ideologies, values and worldviews, something that has become much more pronounced in the last decade thanks to our political class and to parts of the media.

Knowing what we know about human beings, our psychological and evolutionary makeup, there’s no evidence that these divisions are going to be broken down by more scientific evidence or just the passage of time — not that we have much time to spare.

And we should not assume that as climate change becomes worse, these divisions will start to heal.

For these reasons, I have long been keen to understand the ways people respond to climate change — and the language we need to use to convince people to take action.

Six groups of people

Dr Rebecca Huntley.

PHOTO: I have spent the past 15 years listening to Australians talk about climate change. (Supplied: Rebecca Huntley)

Last year I spent time with researchers at the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, which has conducted countless scientific studies on public opinion and behaviour around climate change.

Much of what they do is informed by the Six Americas study, a segmentation first conducted in 2009.

It measures the American public’s climate change beliefs, attitudes, risk perceptions, motivations, values, policy preferences, behaviours — including voting patterns and media consumption — and underlying barriers to action.

It groups the public into six different segments, varying in size and well differentiated in terms of their attitudes to climate change and their views about action.

  • The Alarmed: This group is fully convinced of the reality and seriousness of climate change and already taking individual, consumer, and political action to address it.
  • The Concerned: This group is also convinced that the globe is warming and that it’s a serious problem, but have not yet engaged with the issue personally, including not always voting for political parties with strong climate policies.
  • The Cautiousthe Disengaged and the Doubtful: These groups represent different stages of understanding and acceptance of the problem. None are actively involved.
  • The Dismissive: This group is very sure that climate change is not happening, and often actively involved as opponents of a national effort to reduce emissions. Some of them are in significant positions of power in government, industry and the media.
A chart showing six segments of the American public and how much they support climate change action.

INFOGRAPHIC: The public is grouped into six segments depending on their attitudes to climate change and their views about action. (Supplied: Yale Program on Climate Change Communication)

As someone who has spent about 15 years listening to Australians talk about climate change, this approach immediately resonated with me. It made sense.

The qualitative research I’ve done has revealed the extent to which attitudes about climate are informed not by an understanding of science, but by world views, values, political identification, social and cultural conditioning and gender identity.

Shifting segments

As I contemplated this Six Americas study, the mammoth task of the climate change movement was taking shape in my mind.

We need to increase the Alarmed cohort, absolutely no doubt.

But we also need to develop and hone their skills of talking to others not of the same mindset.

And we need to provide social and emotional support as many of them — many of us — struggle with feelings of grief, dread and burning anger about what’s happening to the planet and the response of many of our political leaders.How spending $200 a year could help prevent climate change
On average, Australians are willing to chip in an extra $200 a year to prevent climate change. It turns out that money could go a long way.

We need to shift more of the Concerned group into the Alarmed group.

We need to find a way to convince the Cautious that urgent action is necessary.

This, very difficultly, often requires language that isn’t fraught with tones of crisis. More on this in a moment.

We need to engage the Disengaged — probably the hardest task of all, because it requires us to rebuild their faith that our democratic institutions are capable and willing to do something about it.

And finally — in my opinion, and I say this with no trepidation whatsoever — we need to drive the Dismissive group out of positions of power in our government, stop the flow of their donations into our political parties, and find smarter ways to engage with them in the media, including social media.

What underpins our response to climate change?

There is an Australian version of the Six Americas study, led by Donald W Hine from the University of New England.

It took a similar approach and came up with five groups — which echo the Yale segments but without the Disengaged.

It was conducted in 2013 — a relatively long time ago given all that’s happened since — but remains highly valuable because it takes into account a broader range of cognitive and emotional factors that underpin human responses to climate change.

These include:

  • How close do people feel to climate change effects?
  • Do they see local manifestations or not, and do they identify them as being connected to climate change?
  • Do they feel an emotional connection to nature?
  • How much do they trust climate change authorities or authorities in general?
  • How much do their self-reported feelings of shame, guilt, anger and fear condition them to respond in certain ways to the climate change issue and remain open or closed to solutions?

These are now the questions I ask myself in the process of developing, conducting and analysing any research on climate change.How climate change has impacted the world since your childhood
Global warming is already changing the world before our eyes — let’s see what has happened in your lifetime.

Language matters

I’ve also spent a lot of time wondering about the efficacy of the language around climate change, around emergency, crisis and urgency.

The facts of climate change and the need for rapid response absolutely merit these terms.

To not use them seems to be more than a sin of omission but an outright lie to the public about the scale of the threat and what’s at stake.

Those in the Alarmed group feel more than comfortable with this message.

Some of the Concerned group respond well to messages of urgency, and others not so well.

But the language of crisis and emergency can actually turn off those who are Disengaged and Cautious, and make them more critical of attempts to address climate change.

An Australian flag flutters in the wind in a dry landscape in country Australia.

PHOTO: The ABC’s Australia Talks survey found people in Queensland and the NT are more conservative on environmental issues. (Getty: Virginia Star)

These people can have a strong belief that the issue is overplayed by the media and “politicised”.

They dislike the gloom and doom tone of the debate, its remote and inaccessible language, and the fact they feel guilty and depressed when listening to climate change messages.

They rightfully question whether our political and business leaders have the capacity or the desire to ensure that any transition to an economy built on renewables doesn’t penalise already struggling groups in our society.

My research has taught me important lessons about climate change communication: be solution-focused and positive, understand the values of the people you are trying to convince, do not fuel division and conflict, and relate solutions to our sources of happiness and common concern.

The challenge is how to activate cooperative values rather than competitive values.

In my view, we must stress what we have in common: the desire for secure work, safe neighbourhoods, a good standard of living, security and happiness — whatever that might look like for different groups of people.

A transformative moment

We also need to find ways to shift those in the large Concerned segment into the Alarmed cohort.

A moment from my own recent past shows it is possible.

In December 2018 I woke up, made myself a cup of coffee and turned on the TV.

I saw hundreds of teenagers skipping school and protesting in the streets about climate change, with handmade signs that spanned from the serious and angry to the humorous and profane.

“There are no jobs on a dead planet.” “You’re burning our future.” And my favourite: “Why should we go to the school if you won’t listen to the educated?”

A group of young female students in school uniform hold signs calling for action on climate change.

PHOTO: After watching young people strike, I made a decision at that moment to put climate change at the heart of everything I do. (ABC News: Jedda Costa)

As I sat sipping my coffee, I thought to myself, “Good on those kids telling the powers that be, the older generation, that they need to do more about climate change.”

And then it hit me. At almost 50 years of age, I am part of that older generation, part of that generation with a platform and a voice some of these young people don’t have yet.

It was as if those teenagers were speaking to me.

In that moment something shifted inside me, a sensation hard to describe and yet I can recall it now with clarity. It actually felt physical. I felt like they were telling me to do something.

And so I made a decision at that moment to put climate change at the heart of everything I do: in my work, as a parent, as a consumer, as a citizen.

It’s a factor in every decision I make about the research jobs I will accept, about the energy that I will have in my house, about the transport that I will take, about the food that I will eat and about where I will invest my superannuation.Subscribe to the podcast
The best of talks, forums, debates and festivals, casting light on major social, cultural, scientific and political issues.

This transformative moment, the moment I tipped from concerned to genuinely alarmed, didn’t happen because I read an ICCP report or sat through a presentation from a climate scientist about CO2 levels.

I reacted to a crowd of children holding up signs in the streets, girls who were only a few years older than my eldest daughter. Suddenly it became very personal.

That I can make a contribution to this movement, probably the most important in our history, is such a relief to me and helps me manage the angst that overwhelms me from time to time in the night.

My first task is to understand how we maintain our optimism as we move deeper into a climate change-affected future.

I, we, can protest, change the terms of our super fund, install solar panels, and vote for parties with strong climate policies — or any climate policies, really.

Three large wind turbines against a country mountain backdrop.

PHOTO: We have to stop voting for parties who don’t have sufficient climate policies. (Getty: Martin Ollman)

But one of the most important things we can do is understand why other people feel the way they do about climate change, and learn to talk to them effectively.

What we need are thousands, millions, of everyday conversations about climate change.

That will help enlarge the ranks of the Concerned, engage the Disengaged and make the Cautious more convinced of the need for action.

This will then expose those who dismiss both the science and the solutions, the denialists — who are today a minority, albeit a powerful one — as what they are: out of step with the rest of us, determined to put our collective wellbeing and our way of life at risk.

We must not let their voices be the loudest in the public arena.

We must create a chorus of different communities united in asking, indeed demanding, that we act now to preserve a liveable world and a viable future.

This article is an edited extract of the MSSI Oration given by Rebecca Huntley at the University of Melbourne. It was recorded and broadcast by ABC RN’s Big Ideas program.

Dr Huntley is one of Australia’s foremost researchers on social trends. She is an adjunct senior lecturer at the School of Social Sciences at the University of New South Wales. She also presents The History Listen on RN each week.

Desolation Row

Thanks to Mrs Murphy, my high school music teacher, I appreciated the poetry of Bob Dylan from a relatively early age. As much as I did as that of Dylan Thomas, and the works we were fed of the classic writers of sonnets epics and odes.

Not being steeped in American culture a great deal of Dylan’s chaotic and surreal imagery went over my head in the sixties. But I knew the opening lines of Desolation Row referred to something dark.

They’re selling postcards of the hanging…

It was not until the advent of internet and Wikipedia that I learned about the shameful lynching of three alleged rapists in Duluth, Minnesota, not far from the Zimmerman home where Dylan’s father lived as a child at the time. Postcard photographs of the hanging victims were sold.

Dylan’s reference to the Titanic, on which the passengers ask “which side are you on.” seems almost prescient, given the current Situation of the world, and America.

In fact the whole song seems to me an ironic acknowledgement of the surreality and ultimate futility of existence.

I just had to jot these notes to show that I can appreciate poetry even while I take the piss.

Bob Dylan

Desolation Row

They’re selling postcards of the hanging
They’re painting the passports brown
The beauty parlor is filled with sailors
The circus is in town
Here comes the blind commissioner
They’ve got him in a trance
One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker
The other is in his pants
And the riot squad they’re restless
They need somewhere to go
As Lady and I look out tonight
From Desolation Row

Cinderella, she seems so easy
“It takes one to know one,” she smiles
And puts her hands in her back pockets
Bette Davis style
And in comes Romeo, he’s moaning
“You Belong to Me I Believe”
And someone says, “You’re in the wrong place my friend
You better leave”
And the only sound that’s left
After the ambulances go
Is Cinderella sweeping up
On Desolation Row

Now the moon is almost hidden
The stars are beginning to hide
The fortune-telling lady
Has even taken all her things inside
All except for Cain and Abel
And the hunchback of Notre Dame
Everybody is making love
Or else expecting rain
And the Good Samaritan, he’s dressing
He’s getting ready for the show
He’s going to the carnival tonight
On Desolation Row

Now Ophelia, she’s ’neath the window
For her I feel so afraid
On her twenty-second birthday
She already is an old maid
To her, death is quite romantic
She wears an iron vest
Her profession’s her religion
Her sin is her lifelessness
And though her eyes are fixed upon
Noah’s great rainbow
She spends her time peeking
Into Desolation Row

Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood
With his memories in a trunk
Passed this way an hour ago
With his friend, a jealous monk
He looked so immaculately frightful
As he bummed a cigarette
Then he went off sniffing drainpipes
And reciting the alphabet
Now you would not think to look at him
But he was famous long ago
For playing the electric violin
On Desolation Row

Dr. Filth, he keeps his world
Inside of a leather cup
But all his sexless patients
They’re trying to blow it up
Now his nurse, some local loser
She’s in charge of the cyanide hole
And she also keeps the cards that read
“Have Mercy on His Soul”
They all play on pennywhistles
You can hear them blow
If you lean your head out far enough
From Desolation Row

Across the street they’ve nailed the curtains
They’re getting ready for the feast
The Phantom of the Opera
A perfect image of a priest
They’re spoonfeeding Casanova
To get him to feel more assured
Then they’ll kill him with self-confidence
After poisoning him with words
And the Phantom’s shouting to skinny girls
“Get Outa Here If You Don’t Know
Casanova is just being punished for going
To Desolation Row”

Now at midnight all the agents
And the superhuman crew
Come out and round up everyone
That knows more than they do
Then they bring them to the factory
Where the heart-attack machine
Is strapped across their shoulders
And then the kerosene
Is brought down from the castles
By insurance men who go
Check to see that nobody is escaping
To Desolation Row

Praise be to Nero’s Neptune
The Titanic sails at dawn
And everybody’s shouting
“Which Side Are You On?”
And Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot
Fighting in the captain’s tower
While calypso singers laugh at them
And fishermen hold flowers
Between the windows of the sea
Where lovely mermaids flow
And nobody has to think too much
About Desolation Row

Yes, I received your letter yesterday
(About the time the doorknob broke)
When you asked how I was doing
Was that some kind of joke?
All these people that you mention
Yes, I know them, they’re quite lame
I had to rearrange their faces
And give them all another name
Right now I can’t read too good
Don’t send me no more letters no
Not unless you mail them
From Desolation Row

BOB DYLAN

Pain

I can’t stand the pain
Spondylosis
Pinching back vertebrae
I can’t stand the pain
Knee arthritis
‘Cause I’m not who I used to be
Hey bloody knees
Tell me, do you remember
How sweet it used to be
When I could walk for miles
Everything was groovy
Now my joints are grating
And that’s one sound
That I just can’t stand
I can’t stand the pain
Of spondylosis
Aching thighs, aching knees
I can’t stand the pain
Of gravity on me
‘Cause I’m not who I used to be
When I was a young man
Everything was so grand
Now that I’ve grown old
There’s just one thing
That I just can’t stand
Can’t stand the pain
I can’t stand the pain
Of my leg muscles
Taunting me with memories
Of when I could walk free
I can’t stand the pain
And I can’t walk far
Unless my walking stick’s with with me
When we are together
I can make it round the shops
Like Woolworths. Oh sweet memories
But it’s just so wrong
That I just can’t stand
I can’t walk alone
Without a trolley to lean on
I can’t stand the pain
The spondylitic pain
That just keeps on haunting me
Hey hey pain
Get off of my back, please
‘Cause I can’t stand the pain
I’ll jump out a window
‘Cause I can’t stand the pain.