Kentucky Attorney Files Challenge To Kentucky Governor’s Closure OF Religious Schools

There is an interesting fight brewing in Kentucky between Attorney General Daniel Cameron and Gov. Andy Beshear. Cameron has filed in support of a challenge to Beshear’s latest executive order closing religious schools to combat the pandemic. Beshear has correctly cited a major victory recently before the Kentucky Supreme Court — an unanimous decision in favor of his authority to issue pandemic orders. However,  Cameron is seeking a higher standard of review by focusing on religious schools that could change the result.

On November 12, 2020, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the authority of the governor to issue pandemic orders. That case is being widely cited, including by Gov. Beshear, as ending this latest challenge before it started.  However, there are distinctions that can be drawn between that decision and the new challenge.

In Beshear v. Agree, the Kentucky Supreme Court was focused on the threshold issue of “the Governor’s authority generally in emergencies” and whether Beshear could issue pandemic orders. However, the five insular questions detailed at the outset of the opinion shows that it is not a blank check on any orders that Beshear might want to issue.  Question 4 is the most relevant and notes that this was a challenge based on property rights claims under the rational basis test and the decision did not effectively bar future constitutional challenges:

IV. Do the Challenged Orders or Regulations Violate Sections 1 or 2 of the Kentucky Constitution Because They Represent the Exercise of “Absolute and Arbitrary Power Over the Lives, Liberty and Property” of Kentuckians?

Only one subpart of one order, no longer in effect, was violative of Section 2. Property rights are enumerated in the Kentucky Constitution and are entitled to great respect, but they are not fundamental rights in the sense that all governmental impingements on them are subject to strict scrutiny, particularly in the area of public health. As with all branches of government, the Governor is most definitely subject to constitutional constraints even when acting to address a declared emergency. In this case, however, the challenged orders and regulations have not been established to be arbitrary, i.e., lacking a rational basis, except for one subpart of one order regarding social distancing at entertainment venues that initially made no exception for families or individuals living in the same household. Executive orders in emergency circumstances, especially where public health and safety is threatened, are entitled to considerable deference by the judiciary.

One of the “constitutional constraints” referenced by the court is religious freedom.

As the opinion (correctly) indicates, governors are afforded “considerable deference by the judiciary.” Thus, the advantage in the litigation still rests with Beshear. However, the outcome could turn on whether Cameron (and litigant First Liberty) can force the review under the strict scrutiny standard as impinging the free exercise of religion.  The pitch for the highest standard of review is driven home by the amended complaint that starts with a quote from Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, 140 S. Ct. 2049, 2064 (2020): “[E]ducating young people in their faith, inculcating its teachings, and training them to live their faith are responsibilities that lie at the very core of the mission of a private religious school.”

Even under the rational basis test, Cameron’s brief details as much science as law in arguing that there is no basis for closing of schools for young children.  He cites various countries where schools were left open and various major organizations from the CDC to the World Health Organization declaring that there is little risk in allowing such classes. For example, the CDC itself has stated repeatedly that these closures are not being done according to their recommendations or findings. CDC Director Redfield stated recently:

“We should be making data driven decisions when we are talking about what we should be doing for institutions or what we should be doing for commercial closures. For example, as we mentioned, last spring CDC did not recommend school closures nor did we recommend their closures today. . . . K through 12 schools can operate with face to face learning and they can do it safely and they can do it responsibly.”

See “CDC Director Redfield Says It Does Not Recommend Closing Schools, Covid Acquired ‘In The Household’”(Nov. 19, 2020) available at (last visited Nov. 20, 2020). The complaint therefore argues that the governor is not “following the science” on young children going to school in person.

If the court opts for the strict scrutiny standard, Beshear could have a serious challenge on his hands in dealing with the countervailing science on the risk posed by young children going to school but also the harm in keeping children from schools.  Cameron notes that the American Academy of Pediatrics has warned that “[t]he importance of in-person learning is well documented and there is already evidence of negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020.”

Thus, the earlier Kentucky Supreme Court decision is not dispositive and much of the outcome could turn on the standard of review.

104 thoughts on “Kentucky Attorney Files Challenge To Kentucky Governor’s Closure OF Religious Schools”

  1. Someone said “Keep the faith.”. If you keep it then how will others join your religion. Religious schools that are closed my keep some kids, parents, teachers, alive and then they can spread the faith and not the virus.
    Wear masks. Close schools. Avoid people.

    – Must deliver partially defrosted turkey to local Party official

    WASHINGTON, DC – The Party today confirmed its emergency ban on holiday turkeys weighing more than nine pounds. The common-sense measure is required to combat the spread of COVID-19 during the upcoming holidays.

    “Large turkeys encourage gatherings of family and friends. These groups are known to congregate in private homes to engage in conversation, laughter, and religious observances such as the saying of grace. Activities like these pose a grave threat to our collective safety,” said Party spokesperson Gretchen Whitmer.

    “We encourage Americans of all genders to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday alone in a dark room streaming the Lions game on their iPhones,” Whitmer added.

    The Party also announced a limited amnesty for consumers who have already purchased a turkey weighing more than the proscribed limit. To take advantage of the amnesty, consumers must deliver their partially defrosted turkey to a local Party official no later than Wednesday, November 25. Consumers who also provide a reheatable side dish and a dessert will be eligible to receive points under the Party’s forthcoming social credit program. The credits may be used to earn privileges such as interstate travel.

    Recognizing the Party’s commitment to core first amendment values, the new rules include an exemption for turkeys consumed at Party-sanctioned protests, provided that Party-aligned media stakeholders certify the protests as mostly peaceful. The exemption also applies to homeless encampments.

    Consumers are cautioned that the possession of multiple smaller turkeys weighing more than nine pounds in total is prohibited. Possession of more than eight ounces of cranberry sauce is also prohibited.

    Immediate implementation of these guidelines is authorized under previously approved directives adopted in response to the COVID-19 emergency. Further information on these guidelines will be communicated as circumstances dictate.

    Blog moderators will recognize that the foregoing is intended as satire to foster discussion on important issues relating to the role of the government and the media, the rule of law, and free speech

    1. What is rational any more? 200000 people per year die of hospital acquired the USA. Only .0011 percent of Kentucky known covid cases have ended in death….of those 1929 deaths how many had living wills or advanced directives.?
      …that said no ventilator…or worse no feeding tube that is a must after a few days on a vent? Why do all these old folks with living wills get to be that stat that trumps the rest of us?….oh because we ain’t keeping honest play books….error by the second baseman!….demand the stats!

  3. Seems Science is the primary argument for what has been and is being proposed to combat the Covid 19 Virus. My question has Science come to any definitive conclusion. Everywhere you may look there are different answers. Wear a mask, social distances don’t congregate in large numbers, but yet the Virus still infects some and not others. Science has not been able to answer the most basic question, what is origin of the Virus? There are statistics which could be relied upon to temperate, but the authoritarian governmental institutions and politicians want to use unproven Science to impose draconian measures and claim to be unburdened to the consequences of their actions because they are using Science in their determinations. Facts are hard to discount, so far the United States has experienced 257,106 deaths (CDC) which represents an approximate 1 in every 1,362 citizens will die of the Virus, assuming there are 350 million United States Citizens. I have not the answers, but the current path forward is unsustainable especially with such long odds that you could die from the Virus.

    1. Do you have a calculator? And a brain? The virus will hardly harm people …younger than most people with out a living will! Ask your authorities the real death rate…..have them subtract out all those over sixty five who were counseled by Obama care into a living will. Would they have survived covid but for their living will? There in lies the question.

      1. Is the answer to that question enough to turn off school….let alone religious school. Let’s see the stats….the science….lets be rational.
        This disease doesn’t kill people…advanced directives do. Whats the Pope say about that!?

    2. “. . . the United States has experienced 257,106 deaths (CDC) . . .”

      “From” covid19 or “with” covid19?

      Those who do not grasp that distinction, and how it’s being manipulated, are seriously ill-informed about how covid19 deaths are being reported.

      1. Exactly! It’s sister stat are the rising number of people testing positive. How many more people are being tested?

      2. 8 million Americans will die with Psoriasis.

        1/10th of Americans deaths have some form of ectopic dermatitis.

        1. Yep, doctors are too stupid to tell the difference between lethal and non-lethal diseases.

          1. Are you too stupid to stupid to recognize how the deaths are counted?

            You have such a big head and such a tiny brain.

        1. “. . . doctors are too stupid to tell the difference between lethal and non-lethal diseases.”

          Non-lethal — you mean like for the 99.7% of people who contract covid19?

          Here’s what is lethal, physically and psychologically: shut downs, closing schools, spreading irrational fears, violating individual rights, turning citizens into covid19 spies, closing businesses, unemployment created by covid19 panic, food lines, delaying medical procedures, mini tyrants.

    1. The death rate in Sweden is .001%.

      A total of 6500 deaths YTD.


      1. The year hasn’t yet ended, and Covid became the 3rd leading cause of death in the US in October. Trump failed the country.

        Almost 250,000 people have died. A record number are currently in the hospital, and hundreds of thousands have been hospitalized at some point, some of whom continue to have longterm complications. These numbers will only increase, especially with the spread over the holidays.

        No one is saying to hide under the bed. Deal with it honestly and with care for your fellow Americans.

        1. Though many are listing Covid as the third leading cause of death, one has to be a bit circumspect.

          Take a singular case that is repeated over and over again in a slightly different form. A person is admitted to hospice because death is imminent. While awaiting for death he is tested and found to be Covid positive even though he has no symptoms of the disease. He dies days or weeks later only to be listed as a Covid death. Can we trust the Covid numbers. 40+% of patients that are listed as Covid deaths were in Nursing Homes and most were never going to get out with many dying in a relatively short period of time with or without Covid.

          1. Allan, when you raise the same issue with flu death statistics, we’ll know you’re serious about how death statistics are determined. I bet you also ask whether cancer deaths in nursing homes are counted corrected.

            1. Cardiac deaths have been used almost as a default in many places so one has a problem there as well.

  4. If one goes back to the 2018 Kentucky election & specifically the major races, all the Republics lead to the end by 100,000+ votes. Even the former Repub Gov was looking at a win.

    And then, just as we might be witnessing today’s 2020 Prez election, the current Gov. Beshear takes the lead. Even though there was plenty of evidence of election fraud the former gov conceded to the fraud.

    I haven’t looked at that data for a couple of years so it’d help to see it again for more details, like what voting machines were being used?

  5. This is an age-old controversy: do religious schools and churches have to follow general safety regulations applicable to all other such institutions, like fire codes, for instance? I know of an attorney who represents these religious schools, and they argue that no regulations apply to them, including things like fire codes, electrical codes and building structural standards, on the grounds that these things are interfering with their free exercise of religion. COVID is another example. Children who go to these religious schools go out into the community and can spread COVID to others, especially during . So why These rules apply to every type of similar endeavor on the grounds that they protect society at large from foreseeable harm, and arguing that It’s an infringement on their free exercise of religion is nonsense. Carried to its extreme, does this mean that a priest can drive down the highway as fast as he wants, because he’s on his way to church, or that he can imbibe too much altar wine and drive drunk because taking wine is part of his practice of religion?

    1. This is nothing like those cases because here the religious schools are attempting to comply with CDC guidance and the state is preventing them from doing so – or have I misunderstood the thrust of Turley’s blog article on this point?

      1. The question, according to the CDC is: can schools open safely? Who decides this? What criteria are used? The Governor decides this, based on statistics of COVID infections and deaths and the rapidity of spread. Kentucky is in the red zone now, and that’s the highest risk level. The CDC never said that schools should never be closed.

        1. Natacha:

          Are you aware of any current CDC recommendations (or requirements) for closing down schools during this COVID-19 pandemic?

          I’ve scanned this document but it is now archived as historical:

          If a group of private schools cite CDC guidelines suggesting their children and the community are safer with their children in school, and the Governor interprets CDC guidelines otherwise, it seems as though CDC experts should be able to fairly quickly settle the question one way or the other.

  6. Religious school closures are not based on science. Perhaps Beshear has a higher religious calling, a faith based religion known as leftism.

  7. I mean come on, lets get this right. god would not let a kid get COVID in a religious school like he would in a public school. So let the religious schools stay open because god protects them. Likewise religious services, let them sing, crowd together, do whatever they want, god will protect them.

    Let’s get our priorities straight. Bars open, schools closed. I am pretty sure that is what most states are doing.

    1. God spelled backwards is dog. Look at the dog side of this. Barking keeps them in power.

  8. The Governor closed All Schools, not just religious schools. This legal argument sounds one step above the trump legal team.

    1. Christopher O. Grant:

      “The Governor closed All Schools, not just religious schools. This legal argument sounds one step above the trump legal team.”
      Oh, au contraire, mon ami Chris. Guess you haven’t heard about “disparate impact,” and how it used to only apply to Dim mascot groups (Alaskan Aleuts,a personal favorite). Lo and behold it applies to other suspect groups triggering strict scrutiny. Like the religious! Hallelujah!

    2. closing government sponsored schools is within government’s purview. Limiting access to private schools that receive no government funds is an infringement on religious liberty especially if you balance an unalienable right against the probable threat of a disease with a 99.5% survivability rate. Smart people understand what is really going on here.

  9. Unless there is a special reason not to close religious schools or they are being treated differently than nonreligious schools, I am failing to see a win here. I certainly think it should proceed through the system as is their right. If this is a win, can these institutions refuse to wear masks because it is against their religion? Can these schools refuse to socially distance because it is against their religion? While children may not be good vectors of transmission, the science does say they do transmit. I am the first to admit these are tough choices, but erring on the side of caution is warranted.

    As long as the religious institutions are being treated the same as the rest, I am not so sure this is a bad decision.


      Danville Christian Academy and Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron on Friday filed a federal lawsuit against Beshear, arguing that his order closing Kentucky’s schools, including private religious schools, violates the First Amendment of the Constitution and the state’s Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.

      The motion for a temporary restraining order filed along with the federal lawsuit said, “Danville Christian has a sincerely held religious belief that it is called by God to have in-person instruction for its students, and it believes that ‘its students should be educated with a Christian worldview in a communal in-person environment.’”

      The religious schools have heavily invested in COVID precautions, including plexiglass barriers, personal protective equipment, sanitation equipment, physical distancing screens and barriers, thermometers, additional desks and tables, Wi-Fi, signage, and medical supplies, according to the court brief.

      1. Jonathan, the last paragraph could be mitigating, but I fail to see why believing in supernatural beings and events should be rewarded with rights not also allowed for those who don’t. The potential harm is not limited to those who attend classes but to those with whom they will interact either knowing or not of their behavior.

      2. This is not a question of whether they are sincere in their beliefs. I have zero doubt they truly believe what they say. This is a question does the Governor treat religious schools different than the other schools. Just because you have a religious institution does not mean you can ignore the law and not comply. As I noted on my first response, they have the right to challenge and should proceed as they see fit. I am not seeing the win. They are being treated the same as the rest. They get heightened scrutiny, but not special privileges.

        1. I thought this was a question between competing faith groups about whether the children and the community, as a whole, are safer if these children are in school?

          Public school parents have put their faith in secularism and Beshear. These private school parents have put their faith in religious instruction and the CDC on keeping schools open.

          1. Cute Jonathan, but faith in it’s usage in the English language is not required for those things we can verify with our senses and reason. We may differ on their meaning but not usually on the “facts”

            1. Joe Biden’s Twitter campaign motto: “Keep the Faith!”

              Is it your position, Joe, that we cannot verify the existence of God with our senses and reason?

              1. Jonathan, the inability to verify the existence of God with our senses and reason is why religious belief is faith instead of knowledge.

                Children learn to count when they’re pretty young. If there were a single god and if god’s existence could be determined via senses and reason, don’t you think different religions would at least be able to agree that there’s only 1 god? How do you account for polytheistic religions?

                  1. I’m not doing either one.

                    I’m saying that I don’t believe that the existence of gods has been proved, so belief in one or more gods isn’t knowledge.

                    Not all belief is knowledge. Knowledge is the subset of belief that’s true and warranted. There are a variety of other kinds of belief that aren’t knowledge: sometimes people believe something that’s true, but they don’t have a valid warrant; sometimes people believe things that are false; sometimes people believe things where the truth-value isn’t known; sometimes people believe things that don’t have a truth-value.

                    I’m an agnostic atheist (agnostic = we don’t know either way, atheist = lack of belief in gods). Maybe 1 or more gods exist, maybe they don’t, but we do not *know* of their existence. Many people have *faith* in their existence, but faith isn’t knowledge. Some theists are are agnostic theists, and some are gnostic theists, just as some atheists are agnostic (like me) and some are gnostic.

                    You are welcome to believe in the existence of the one god you believe in. I have no problem with theism per se. I’m just saying that your belief isn’t knowledge. It’s faith.

                    I disagree with the Catholic Church that that catechism is knowledge. Of course, other religions also disagree with the Catholic Church about that. That catechism seems to beg the question by assuming “his works.” In proving that “one true God” exists, you cannot assume that whatever works they’re referring to are “his works.” How do you know that the works are created by one or more gods? How do you know that they’re the work of only one god rather than multiple gods? My ability to reason is part of why I do not accept that the catechism is true, and without first establishing the truth of a statement, it cannot be knowledge.

                    Again: If there were a single god and if god’s existence could be determined via senses and reason, don’t you think different religions would at least be able to agree that there’s only 1 god? This is meant as a sincere question, not a rhetorical one.

                    1. There is a difference between right opinion and knowledge. I may be of the right opinion that the Earth revolves around the Sun, but I may not be able to prove it, or to understand the proof of it by another, if I lack sufficient knowledge.

                      General relativity is another example.

                      The fact that the existence of God has never yet been satisfactorily proven to you doesn’t necessarily mean the proof of God does not exist, does it?

                      The Catholic Catechism I cited is merely an example of one denomination’s belief, not the last word for planet Earth. I am not Catholic and don’t care for the exclusive use of the masculine pronoun to refer to God, myself.

                      As to the problem of the one and the many, or the part and the whole (i.e., before we get to one God, can we agree there is only one One), let’s begin with something “very simple.” You gave the example of a child counting the number of fingers on a hand. It goes like this: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (pick your verbal language system). So how many ones are there? Are there five different ones, or is there only one One, which = 5 x 1/5?

                      Please bear in mind I am not an expert in theology, philosophy or mathematics!

                    2. JM, throughout the ages man always strives to believe in something. Whether it be one God, many God’s, or nature, man puts down his logic and delves into faith and faith based religion. Some today say God does not exist. Faith is for those with lesser knowledge. They then speak as if they hold the knowledge that all others are searching for, like JF. He might say God doesn’t exist. He relies on faith and then he goes back to his faith based religion, leftism.

                    3. “There is a difference between right opinion and knowledge”

                      I agree. What you call “right opinion” is what I referred to by “sometimes people believe something that’s true, but they don’t have a valid warrant.”

                      “The fact that the existence of God has never yet been satisfactorily proven to you doesn’t necessarily mean the proof of God does not exist, does it?”

                      No, it’s entirely possible for there to be a valid proof, and for me to be unfamiliar with it, or for me to be too ignorant to understand it. But if there’s a valid proof, then lots of people can point to it (or them, if there’s more than one), and those who have sufficient background knowledge will be able to understand it, and there’s agreement among those who have sufficient background knowledge that the proof is valid.

                      The thing is: there is no agreement of that sort for the existence of a single god. The disagreement (between different religions) about whether there’s a single god and who that god is is evidence of the lack of agreement.

                      If you think I’m wrong about that, what do you take as a proof?

                      We can express the number one in infinitely many ways (e.g., 5/5 = 1, 3.5 – 2.5 = 1, ln (e) = 1, (sqrt 1) = 1, 1! = 1, 1^3 = 1, 0.99999… = 1). It has special properties, such as (x)(1) = x for all real x; this property is called the multiplicative identity (0 is the additive identity: 0 + x = x for all real x). When you do mathematics, you can use any number as many times as needed for expressing a mathematical concept, carrying out a calculation, etc.

                      The process of counting — 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, … — is distinct from (though related to) the sum 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 5. The number 1 only occurs once in the counting sequence, but appears 5 times in that specific sum. The multiple occurrences of 1 in the sum are the “same” 1 in the sense that they all correspond to the multiplicative identity for real numbers.

                      Does that answer your math question?

                    4. Jonathan, one cannot prove a negative, so yes, it is possible there is a proof for God, just no evidence of it, or shall we say insufficient evidence for many of us to accept..

                      I grant that the creator rational has evidence, though not conclusive. The problem for those of a traditional religion is that even if there is a creator, that does not argue for our knowing it’s wishes, design, or whether it cares what we do, how we act, or if it does, whether we should act as it wishes.

                    5. CTHD:

                      “But if there’s a valid proof, then lots of people can point to it.”

                      Before Galileo, how many could point to the proof for a heliocentric solar system?

                      Before Einstein, how many could point to the proof for general relativity?

                      Before we get from many to one God, who would you say is the greatest physicist in the history of human thought? Do physicists agree about that, or is there much disagreement?

                      No, you didn’t answer my simple math question! It’s a very old problem, and not so easy to solve, or I am simply too slow-witted to get your answer the first time around. You said there are an infinite number of mathematical ways to express the numerical idea of 1, including 5=1+1+1+1+1, but how many 1s did you say there are in the field of mathematics? I missed that part. You are the mathematical expert. I am in your hands.

                    6. I don’t buy that your questions about Galileo and Einstein are particularly relevant. How many people were making claims about general relativity before Einstein? It’s not analogous to the claims that one or more gods exist, which have been made for thousands of years and believed by billions of people. More to the point, I’m not saying that there will never be a proof that 1 god exists. I’m saying that there isn’t currently a valid proof. One can debate who first proved heliocentrism, but I doubt that there were a lot of people who believed it prior to a valid proof (and even after a valid proof, it took a while to convince many people). Billions of people believe in god(s). The question is: is there a valid proof? If not, then their current belief isn’t knowledge (but maybe others will have knowledge of it in the future, it a valid proof is developed).

                      I don’t know who I’d say the greatest physicist in history is, and I don’t know whether physicists agree on this. I don’t see how it’s relevant to our discussion. “Greatest” is generally a matter of opinion, not knowledge. If more people say “Einstein” than “Newton” (or vice versa), that doesn’t make it true, it only makes one or the other belief more widely shared. Opinions like this are what I characterized earlier as “sometimes people believe things that don’t have a truth-value.” Not all claims are T/F.

                      Perhaps I didn’t understand your math question.

                      “You said there are an infinite number of mathematical ways to express the numerical idea of 1”

                      No, not the numerical *concept*, which I’d say is the concept of a unit, but infinitely many ways to express the *value*. I don’t consider “concept” and “value” to mean the same thing.

                      “including 5=1+1+1+1+1”

                      No, that has a value of 5, not a value of 1. The digit 1 does appear several times in the addend, though. That introduces other words we may need: numeral/digit/glyph (the physical mark used to represent the number; in our Arabic number system it’s “1,” but in other number systems developed over human history — Roman, Babylonian, Mayan, … — it can look different, might be a solid dot, a circle, a dash, a narrow triangle, etc.). There might be other terms that we need, like “properties,” “definition,” and maybe some others.

                      “how many 1s did you say there are in the field of mathematics?”

                      I need you to clarify: when you say “1s,” are you talking about the concept of 1? If so, there are several, as there are multiple mathematical systems that have the concept of a unit, and the unit is defined in different ways depending on the system.

                      Or did you mean: how many glyphs? If so, there are several.

                      Or did you mean: how many expressions with the value 1? Infinitely many.

                      Or did you mean something else?

                      If you clarify, I’ll try again.

              2. Jonathan, yes. We cannot verify the existence of god with our senses and reason. In fact Christians claim faith is a virtue.

                  1. The New Testament is sensible to those who can read (and of course to humans born after Christ, but unfortunately not before, and those to whom it was available). Faith in the New Testament is deemed a virtue by most Christians.

              1. In response to your 6:50 PM comment, CTHD:

                1. My point in raising Galileo and Einstein was primarily to share my own sense of intellectual and religious humility about the question. I cannot from scratch prove the heliocentric model of the solar system, nor the theory of general relativity, and I even labor mightily to follow the proofs of others, but I may have a very crude degree of right opinion in relation to each. There clearly exists a specialized development of human intellect for which these are matters of extremely precise knowledge, not crude right opinion. Why should the proof of God’s existence be any different? I’ve read enough of Mortimer Adler’s attempt at a proof, for example, to be quite impressed:


                But I may never have sufficient time – or intellectual, philosophical and theological capacity – to say whether or not he’s successfully accomplished the undertaking.

                I must say you raised a very smart contrast in your discussion of my example.

                2. My question about the greatest physicist in the history of human thought, in your opinion, or according to your knowledge, and the relationship between the God of physicists and the God of theologians, was probably much too crude an analogy to continue with further. At least for now.

                3. I understand your distinction between mathematical glyphs for 1 and expressions having the value of 1, but I am a little hazy on what you mean by the concept of 1, i.e., whether we are now talking about the same concept associated with the glyph 1. How many concepts of 1 are there in the field of mathematics?

                1. Re: your question in #3, I’d say that there’s more than one, but I don’t know how many.

                  For example, one way of thinking about 1 is as the successor to 0. This is probably the most basic concept.
                  Another way of thinking about 1 is as the multiplicative identity: the real number x such that (x)(y) = y for all y.

                  We could add some other ways of thinking about 1 to this list, but I’m not sure how to develop a comprehensive list so that we could say how many there are in total. Moreover, since math is always being created (or discovered, depending on one’s view of that), there’s no reason to think that additional concepts for 1 won’t be created/discovered in the future.

                  I suppose someone could say that 1 has both properties I specified, and both should be part of the concept of 1, but I’m inclined not to take that view, for reasons that are hard for me to explain without going into somewhat abstract math.

                  Thanks for the book recommendation.

                  1. You’re welcome, CTHD. Sorry to take so long in replying, but I have been away from my desk for the Thanksgiving Holiday.

                    A. “I’d say that there’s more than one, but I don’t know how many.”


                    “I suppose someone could say that 1 has both properties I specified, and both should be part of the concept of 1, but I’m inclined not to take that view…”

                    If x>1, can x=1?

                    B. “For example, one way of thinking about 1 is as the successor to 0. This is probably the most basic concept.”

                    I suspect a definition of 1 as “the first digit” or “the first unit of measure” is probably more universal than 1 as the successor to zero:



                    Is zero even a number, or is it absolute anti-number?

                    The relationship between zero and 1 strikes me as one of the most advanced concepts we can contemplate. Creation ex nihilo or ex nihilo nihil fit?

                    C. “Another way of thinking about 1 is as the multiplicative identity: the real number x such that (x)(y) = y for all y.”

                    Can 1 also be accurately expressed as “the unchanging whole (unity) such that y/y=1 for all y?”

                    Which leads to the question whether 0/0 = 1 or not and why?

                    Sorry about all of the ?s. Unity is a fascinating subject.

                    1. Jonathan,

                      I hope you had a good Thanksgiving.

                      Re: “I suspect a definition of 1 as “the first digit” or “the first unit of measure” is probably more universal than 1 as the successor to zero,” yes, that’s probably how most people think about it. I was thinking in terms of definitions used by mathematicians rather than concepts used by non-mathematicians or the historical development of math.

                      Historically, 0 did develop as a concept and a symbol later than other counting numbers. But once ideas are developed, mathematicians — like scholars in other fields — often try to boil things down to what is most basic and reorganize ideas, with more complex ideas derived from the basics, so they don’t necessarily continue to think about concepts in the order they developed historically.

                      In formalizing arithmetic, this “what are the most basic ideas?” process lead to the Peano postulates:, built in part around idea of 0 and succession.

                      Yes, 0 is a number, though there are times that mathematicians want to work with a set of numbers that doesn’t include 0. For example, if you’re talking about the rational number A/B (“rational number” = a number that can be expressed as a ratio), then A can be any integer, but B has to be a non-zero integer. In using symbols for number sets, mathematicians use a star after the set’s name to denote “excluding 0.” For example, Z is the symbol for integers {…, -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, …}, and Z* is the symbol for the non-zero integers {…, -3, -2, -1, 1, 2, 3, …}; R is the symbol for the real numbers, and R* is the non-zero reals.

                      Re: y/y=1, that’s true for all y except 0. 0/0 is undefined, because there is no way to define it so that it’s consistent with all of the things you’d like it to be consistent with. For example. 0/x = 0 for all non-zero x, so that inclines one to say that 0/0 = 0. But as you note, y/y = 1 for all non-zero y, which inclines one to say 0/0 = 1. And that tension between wanting to define 0/0 as 0 vs. as 1 leads mathematicians to leave it undefined.

                    2. Thanks for the excellent explanations, CTHD. I hope you had a good holiday, too.

                      I don’t doubt that zero has evolved to become the first digit in the Hindu-Arabic system, but I am not yet convinced that zero is a natural number, in the same way that 1 is a natural number, or that zero, rather than 1, is the first natural number.

                      Three difficulties cropped up in my study of Peano’s Axioms:

                      1. “Peano’s original formulation of the axioms used 1 instead of 0 as the “first” natural number.”

                      Why did Peano originally begin with 1?

                      2. “Brahmagupta’s understanding of the number systems went far beyond that of others of the period. In the Brahmasphutasiddhanta (Correctly Established Doctrine of Brahma) he defined zero as the result of subtracting a number from itself.”


                      Perhaps it is more basic to arrive at 0 through subtraction from 1, than it is at 1 through succession from 0:

                      1 + 1 = 2; 1 – 1 = 0 (1+/-1 yields 0,1,2)
                      0 + 0 = 0; 0 – 0 = 0 (0+/-0 yields 0)

                      3. Weissman writes: “Regrettably, there seems to be no general agreement about whether to include 0 in the set of natural numbers.”


                      I do find it convenient to say that 0 is neither a positive integer nor a negative integer and is the only integer with this completely neutral value.

                2. Jonathan and CTHD, forgive my intrusion on this discussion. Your paragraph 1 interests me the most, and I think you are speaking to our adoption of accepted cultural knowledge without having to establish the proofs individually. This is the defining meaning of culture and reason for our wild success as a species and which has now reached an explosion of capabilities. We each carry a reference desk in our pockets and one which is expanding exponentially through big data. Its thrilling and daunting.

                  The reason we accept the heliocentric model now is because it makes obvious sense and because much of our technology operates based on it. Consider that the “proof” for much of spiritualism over our history has been in the power of shamans. Consider then that even Jesus won converts as a faith healer and that trick is still employed in modern times. Consider now the power of modern science, which does heal the sick, makes humans fly, and has gotten us to the moon.

                  Is there equivalency for any proofs of God? Do they universally and obviously make sense and does it heal the sick? I don’t think so and that is the difference between the heliocentric model and proofs of God.

                  1. Joe,

                    Re: the heliocentric theory, you make a good point: a good scientific theory allows one to make and test predictions, not only in terms of whether technology will function, but also things like the timing of future solar eclipses. I don’t have the impression that belief in the existence of gods allows these kinds of accurate predictions. Jonathan, do you have any examples of confirmable predictions made by theism and distinguishable from chance?

                    1. CTHD:

                      “Jonathan, do you have any examples of confirmable predictions made by theism and distinguishable from chance?”

                      I’ll give you four:

                      1. A significant conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn will take place in the first degree of tropical Aquarius on the solstice of 21 December 2020.

                      2. A balanced plant-based diet with supplemental B-12 will reduce the vegan’s risk of cancer.

                      3. The consumption of psilocybin in an appropriate set and setting will induce a religious experience, more often than not.

                      4. The regathering of Israel is a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.

                    2. Jonathan,

                      I don’t see how #s1-3 are made by theism rather than by theists, using only natural science or social science (where the predictions could and probably have also been made by non-theists using the same natural or social science info). Would you explain why you think they’re predicted by theism itself?

                      I also don’t see how the prediction in #4 is distinguishable from chance. Why do you think it is?

                    3. CTHD:

                      I view science and history, including the history of Judaism, as branches of theology. Through good science and good history, atheists and agnostics participate in God’s work. God’s work follows a blueprint. The ongoing restoration and judgment of Israel is part of that blueprint. Israel must meet three sets of expectations: its own, the world’s, and God’s.

                      Today is the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, in commemoration of UN General Assembly Resolution 181 (II).

                      Now is God any less with Iran? It should seem so. Its Supreme Leader casts cruel and unnecessary doubt on the Holocaust, and unconscionably calls for the destruction of Israel:

                      “Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday said he seeks Israel’s destruction but not the annihilation of all Jews, after Israeli and American leaders accused him of encouraging genocide. He said Iran would support any nation or group that fights against Israel.”

                      “Khamenei was commenting on a poster published on his website that used the words “final solution” in calling for Israel’s destruction, a term usually associated with Nazi Germany’s efforts to eliminate all Jews during the Holocaust.”


                      More recently, Khamenei tweeted: “Iran’s presence in the region & the issue of Iran’s missiles have nothing to do with the UK, France, or Germany, particularly when they themselves possess destructive nuclear missiles. They should first change their destructive intervention in the region before saying anything.”

                      This tweet was followed by the assassination of Dr. Fakhrizadeh, the alleged head of a secret Iranian nuclear weapons program.

                      Khamenei then tweeted: “One of our country’s eminent scientists in the nuclear & defense fields – Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh – has been martyred by brutal mercenaries. With his great, enduring scientific efforts, he sacrificed his life on the path of God & the lofty status of martyrdom is his divine reward. All relevant administrators must seriously place two crucial matters on their agendas: 1st to investigate this crime and firmly prosecute its perpetrators and its commanders, 2nd to continue the martyr’s scientific and technological efforts in all the sectors where he was active. I offer my condolences for this loss and my congratulations on his martyrdom to his respected family, the scientific community of the country as well as his colleagues and students in various sectors, and I ask God to elevate his rank.”


                      Israel has neither claimed nor denied responsibility.

                    4. Jonathan,

                      Now it’s my turn to apologize for the long delay.

                      I don’t know why Peano originally began with 1 rather than 0.

                      Re: your belief that science and history are branches of theology, I accept that you believe that, but I don’t share your belief, and it strikes me as begging the question. I’m asking whether you have examples of confirmable predictions made by theism and distinguishable from chance that would be convincing to someone who doesn’t interpret the natural and social sciences as branches of theology.

                    5. No need to apologize and in fact very good timing, CTHD.

                      “I’m asking whether you have examples of confirmable predictions made by theism and distinguishable from chance that would be convincing to someone who doesn’t interpret the natural and social sciences as branches of theology.”

                      Well, let’s look at it. I argue that “A significant conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn will take place in the first degree [0-1st degree is probably more accurate] of tropical Aquarius on the solstice of 21 December 2020” is a confirmable prediction made by theism. Do you agree with this prediction, on one hand, but disagree that this is a theological prediction, on the other?


                      If you are not a theist, you are either an atheist (God does not exist and certainly did not design this conjunction as a sign for our benefit); an agnostic (the existence of God is unknowable and certainly cannot be divined from this conjunction or any other chain of evidence); or you are undecided. May I ask which one?

                    6. Jonathan,

                      “I argue that “A significant conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn will take place in the first degree [0-1st degree is probably more accurate] of tropical Aquarius on the solstice of 21 December 2020” is a confirmable prediction made by theism. Do you agree with this prediction, on one hand, but disagree that this is a theological prediction, on the other?”

                      I agree that it’s a confirmable prediction that’s distinguishable from chance, but I don’t view it as a theological prediction.

                      Re: theism / atheism / agnosticism, I prefer 4 categories to 3. Think of it as a square split up into four smaller squares. On one axis is theism/atheism (does one believe in god(s) or not), and on the other axis is gnosticism/agnosticism (does one treat the belief as knowledge or not — gnosis is the Greek word for knowledge). This creates the four categories of gnostic theism (believes in god(s) and treat the belief as knowledge), agnostic theism (believes in god(s) but doesn’t treat the belief as knowledge), agnostic atheism (lacks belief in god(s) and doesn’t treat the belief as knowledge), gnostic atheism (lacks belief in god(s) and treats the lack of belief as knowledge). I’m an agnostic atheist. I’m not saying that that the existence of god(s) is permanently unknowable, only that I don’t think we currently know. See my November 24, 2:22pm comment as well.

                    7. Excellent table, CTHD.

                      Now do you consider it chance that the solstitial 12:21 Jupiter-Saturn conjunction should occur in year 2020 of the Gregorian calendar, the international standard, given that these conjunctions occur every 20 years, and Jupiter has a 12-year orbital period?

                      As to your atheism, may I ask whether you are a religious atheist who believes in the evidence for reincarnation, e.g., a Buddhist who believes HH the 14th Dalai Lama is the reincarnation of a Buddha, or are you also in relative disbelief with respect to reincarnation?

                    8. Jonathan,

                      Re: whether I think “it chance that the solstitial 12:21 Jupiter-Saturn conjunction should occur in year 2020 of the Gregorian calendar, the international standard, given that these conjunctions occur every 20 years, and Jupiter has a 12-year orbital period,” that’s an interesting question, and it prompted me to think about some things I doubt I’ve ever thought about. I’m also fairly ignorant when it comes to astronomy.

                      To answer your question: I consider a lot of it chance.

                      There’s still a great deal that we don’t know about the formation of the universe and even the formation of our solar system. Even now, my impression is that there are chaotic elements in our solar system, so we can predict planetary motion in the short-term but not the long term. If you asked this question 500 million years from now, I expect the conjunctions wouldn’t occur every 20 years and the orbital period might be different for both planets.

                      Similarly for the Earth: the length of the year isn’t a matter of chance in the sense that it’s the length of time that it takes to orbit the sun, but is a matter of chance that you’re asking now, and the amount time that it takes for the Earth to orbit the Sun has changed over time and is still very slowly changing, so there’s an element of chance to how long a year is (in that the length depends on the date when you’re asking — where the length doesn’t vary in a meaningful way during a single human lifetime or even the lifetime of our species, but does vary in the lifetime of the solar system).

                      I consider it chance that the Julian and Gregorian calendars set their starting points where they do. But it strikes me as a different kind of chance than the chance matters in the formation and continuing development of our solar system.

                      I don’t believe in reincarnation. I also haven’t tried to familiarize myself with what Buddhists consider evidence for it.

                    9. I believe theists and religious atheists (e.g., Buddhists) approach synchronicity differently than Chinese Communist Party atheists. CTHD, your comment has me imagining a 2021 Mind and Life conversation between HH the 14th Dalai Lama, members of Biden’s Interfaith Advisory Council and a team from Biden’s Office of Science and Technology Policy:



                      With an invitation to expert representatives on faith and science from the Vatican and the CCP.

                  2. Good points, Joe.

                    Loss of faith is a sickness in itself. Confidence in the medicine is important:


                    Some of us see evidence of the Creator’s laws in the healthcare field. We thank God for nurses, doctors and COVID-19 vaccinations.

                    Hard science and hard theology go hand in hand. Let’s not buy into a false distinction between the proof of heliocentrism and faith in God. The Christian scientists who discovered and taught the heliocentric model did not. Contemporary First Nations Firekeepers do not. We are talking about the Light and Warmth that sustain our humanity. We are talking about Truth and Reconciliation in America.

                    An excerpt from Lincoln’s Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day:

                    “And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”


                    1. Just saw this Jonathan. I appreciate your response, but I don’t get that it is responsive to my point, which is about how we each – as carriers and beneficiaries (or casualties) of our culture – accept knowledge developed by others preceding us without having to go through the proofs, but how for most this is justified by the obvious success of those ideas, as is evident by their application to physical problems and goals. The predictability and repeatability of scientifically established procedures is the magic which should end discussion, especially when compared to the promised magic of religions, the results of which are either not regularly evident or vaguely defined enough as to escape real testing and real results.

                      By your recent posts, I fear we will not be able to meaningfully communicate further on this subject, given the distance between our ideas, but I appreciate your willingness and good spirit in attempting to. If you want to respond again I will also.

              2. Interesting, but on reflection I can prove I am not the love child of Saul Alinsky and Elanor Roosevelt, though some here might think that possible.

  10. “Lockdown Addicts: New data from Sweden show it’s safe to keep schools open, but Joe Biden’s Covid-19 advisors seem more interested in shutting down.”

    “Biden and other leaders claim to be following “the science,” but that obviously doesn’t include the research showing the high costs and low benefits of lockdowns and school closures. Closing schools was a dubious move in the spring, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that it would likely do little to stem the pandemic (and noted that school closings in other countries had failed to make a discernible impact). Today it makes even less sense in light of the accumulated evidence.”

    “The school closures are disproportionately harming African-American and Hispanic students, and other lockdown measures fall hardest on low-income workers who can’t do their jobs from home, as was repeatedly pointed out by Trump and the researchers he consulted, like Scott Atlas of the Hoover Institution. Atlas, whose calculations show that the social costs of lockdowns exceed the benefits, calls them “a luxury of the rich.” But despite Biden’s professed concern for reducing inequality, he has not urged schools and businesses to remain open. While he says that he will not impose a national lockdown, his advisory board is dominated by public-health professionals eager to impose still more costly restrictions.”

    1. Sweden and Atlas are both now punch lines in the conversation about virus policy and foolishly set up an either/or choice. In fact, wise policy is that masks and social distancing create the safer circumstances for opening the economy while the current out of control surge overwhelming our hospitals results in it’s closing. Studies have shown that this is more from the hesitancy of potential customers than it is from mandates from on high.

      By the way:

      ” A self-described contrarian, Tierney is a critic of aspects of environmentalism, the “science establishment”, big government,[2] and calls for limiting emissions of carbon dioxide.[3]”

        1. Nothing of course. A menu of West European countries have had a second wave of COVID illness. Eastern Europe, which was only grazed last spring, is having what amounts to its first wave. Portugal, Switzerland, and Austria are having a 2d wave worse than the first, Germany and Italy are replicating the experience they had last spring; France and the Low Countries are having a milder outbreak than last spring’s; and the outbreak in Britain and Spain is a great deal milder. Sweden, Ireland, and the rest of Scandinavia are having the mildest 2d wave of all; in Sweden it appears at this time the peak of the 2d wave will be mortality in the range of about 30% of that of the 1st wave.

          We needed to set priorities, which means protect the actually vulnerable: people over 60 and people over 50 with a high body mass index. Closing the schools is just public health theatre. And, when Democratic Party clients wanted to stage riots, suddenly public health wasn’t an issue at all. That’s when we learned these measures were a political tool.

          1. I can see state-by-state lockdowns in the US and even the possibility of another national lockdown if things really get much worse before they get better, but not lockdowns of the schools this time around. Not without more evidence. I agree that protections for the vulnerable are critical. Flexibility, negotiation and creative problem solving are key to protecting vulnerable school system employees.

            1. What lockdowns appear to do is to redistribute case loads from one time period to another. That might be helpful to buy time or to relieve stress on your medical system. Since no supralocal area is suffering anywhere near the stress you saw in the 20 counties around Manhattan last spring, a lockdown for the latter reason might be helpful for medical service personnel but not strictly necessary. Across a range of states on the Great Plains and in the Rockies, hospitalizations appear to have reached a plateau.

              So, you’d figure that the reason to lockdown would be to buy time. Not sure which have lockdowns, but I know South Dakota does not. We’re getting static from Michigan that Gov. Morticia Shellgames’ latest edicts have set off another wave of panic buying.

              I haven’t seen or heard of any creative problem-solving. I have seen Governors resorting to measures which did a great deal of economic damage for uncertain benefit. I’d like to see a little syncopation, such as a public health measure which requires person’s over 50 to be served outside or served take-out, but leaves the younger people in peace.

        2. “Earlier this year, Sweden became Europe’s coronavirus experiment when it refused to implement a harsh lockdown as the continent was devastated by the spread of COVID-19.

          But its more relaxed approach has grown harsher in light of the worsening outbreak in Europe.

          Sweden has now put five of its 21 regions under stricter guidelines as it faces the same problem as much of the rest of Europe: the virus is now spreading faster than it was at its first peak.

          On October 29, Sweden’s Public Health Agency announced stricter new advice for Stockholm, the capital, as well as the counties of Västra Götaland and Östergötland…..”

          Wait, I thought it’s spread was a good thing.

          1. Are you suggesting Sweden pursued an herd immunity strategy, Joe?

            As it stands now, does Sweden appear to be at any disadvantage relative to those European countries that followed “harsher” first wave restrictions?


            Tegnell said to suggest the country pursued “herd immunity” would be incorrect. “In common with other countries we’re trying to slow down the spread as much as possible… To imply that we let the disease run free without any measures to try to stop it is not true,” he said.

            Tegnell said any genuine herd immunity strategy would “rapidly overwhelm your health service and possibly cause a number of deaths indefinitely and leave people with long-term consequences. If you can avoid that I would say that you definitely should.”

            1. I don’t know if they were Jonathan and was just wising off, I don;t know what their reasoning was. I also don’t know their relative situation now or earlier, beyond the fact that they are adopting similar policies to other European countries.

              Again, a lockdown is secondary to having a population properly trained in proper behavior and acceptance of their civic duty during the pandemic.

      1. Sweden and Atlas are both now punch lines in the conversation about virus policy

        What’s amusing about you is the repeated manifestations of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

  11. The school closings are inane, and indicative of stupidity or ulterior motives. The young are not in danger from this virus and do not transmit it efficiently.

    1. Yet they do have cases where there is transmission and medical problems including death. It is not nearly as black and white as some would have one believe.

      1. The (ought to be) Quiet Man:

        “Yet they do have cases where there is transmission and medical problems including death. It is not nearly as black and white as some would have one believe.”

        Well, of course, we make policy based on the exception not the rule. It’s why we can’t make left-hand turns.

      2. Yet they do have cases where there is transmission and medical problems including death. It is not nearly as black and white as some would have one believe.

        The ratio of COVID deaths to non-COVID deaths among those under 25 (in the last 9 months) has been 0.01. This is not a threat to the young and you making false statements isn’t going to make it a threat to the young.

      3. Outliers are a specialty that can impede progress. In order to get things done, first one deals with the greater problems.

        This virus has been over-hyped and our some of our cures are doing more damage than the virus itself. Based on the school closing demand the next thing will be to close the schools and businesses for yearly Influenza.

      4. Children need other children. Their peer groups are crucial to their socializaiton and general development. We know that. We also know that children are not only not at great risk of catching the disease, they are almost at no risk from dying from it (unlike influenza or pneumonia) and they do not appear to spread it easily.
        In Sweden, there have been no fatalities for the 1.8 million students under 16 years of age, so old folk probably should be allowed to see our grandchildren.
        Like Lionel Shriver, I am old enough to remember the Asian flu and Hong Kong flu, and an era before we had vaccinations for polio, and like her, I do not want to spend my last years cowering in my room with a mask on my face. I like a little fresh air now and then, and the company of my fellow humans.
        The media have been hammering anecdotal evidence and ignoring actual statistics since February, but that is not following the “science.” That is scare-mongering a la Chicken Little.
        The media and officials who support more lockdowns have also continued counting cases and deaths, which is odd. The influenza season runs from September to September. We now know that the first cases appeared in September 2019 in Lombardy, an area with a large Chinese population and businessmen who regularly visit places like Wubei province, so we should have stopped counting cases and deaths for the past year this August, then started again in September.
        This fall there has been a dramatic increase in case, but not in deaths, and children are not dropping like flies, nor are they being admitted to hospitals en masse, nor, it appears, have they killed off all their grandparents.
        Sweden has a death rate of 62.6/100,000, which is much higher than Norway’s 6.0/100,000, but much half Belgium’s 135.5 and lower than Spain’s 90.8, the UK’s 81.9, Italy’s 81.6, France’s 72.4, and the Czech Republic’s 66.6, and only slightly worse than the Netherlands (51.26) and Romania (51.1) or Luxembourg (42.3).
        It would be refreshing to have public debates in which a variety of experts participated, but I doubt that will happen because it would undermine the current models, in which our ‘scientists’ and politicians have invested their reputations. But the statistics are there for those who want to look, e.g., the publication on the website for Oxford’s Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, CDC’s website, the British and European government websites, publications by faculty at Stanford and Harvard and elsewhere, the lastest Danish study on face-masks (which apparently are more fashion accessories than medical devices), Johns Hopkins website, and Statistica, which is the easiest to consult for a layman like me.
        We do not base economic or foreign policy on anecdotal evidence or exceptional cases. Why are we doing it with this virus?
        My apologies for the length of this post, but sometimes it is difficult to convey information in 140 characters.

        1. Old guy, you are absolutely correct. The number I want to see calculated is life years lost.

          When 10,000 nursing home patients with a remaining 2 year lifespan die then 20,000 life years are lost.

          If the same number died at age 10 with an expected 70 more years that would be 700,000 life years lost.

          1,000 additional deaths from suicide and drug addiction caused by Covid restrictions in 20 year old’s with an expected 60 more years would be 60,000 life years.

          Why are there reports of a decrease in deaths from Influenza? Because many that would have died from influenza died from Covid.

          Voluntary isolation of the sick and elderly. The younger and healthy can use sensible precautions.

          We all die. It is unfortunate when leaders put us in a casket when we still have plenty of life left.

          1. Indeed!
            I want to live what years I have left in the fresh air, with family and friends, not in my basement, nor even the Oval Office, cut off from “peoplekind” (my thanks to J. Trudeau for the correct referent) and looking out at the natural world through glass or a computer screen.
            Old people are adults, not children, and if they want to avoid the rest of humanity, that’s fine. But it is not fine if they are forced to communicate with their children through plexiglass and denied the company of their grandchildren.
            The reality is that most old people who catch this survive. I know more than a few who already have done so, one as old as 95 and another as young as 65.
            If what I read is accurate (and I have lived long enough to be skeptical), then two-thirds or more of those who have succumbed to the virus had at least two serious underlying health problems. Their days were numbered in any case, and it seems that half of all those who have passed on have been over 80 and well beyond life expectancy. Indeed, if I read the CDC and other websites correctly, we had something of a ‘death deficit’ over the summer.
            I know of younger people who have lost their jobs and their futures, and for what? To protect me? What can they salvage after a year of unemployment, with no hope of returning to normal. Is that the ‘great reset’ we are all supposed to be welcoming?
            It is not just the years of life that have been lost to the absurd model published by Neil Ferguson, it is the damage done to young and middle-aged people who have seen their presents ravaged and their futures severely compromised.
            That churches are closed is beyond contempt. I have no faith, but I envy those who do, and the last thing I would want to do is to deprive them of solace in a time of fear and loathing, which is what the media have been promoting.
            I long for an Edward R. Murrow. Instead, who do we have? Prigs and self-righteous conformists who lecture the rest of us — a legion of Carrie Nations!
            So I hope the challenge in Kentucky succeeds. It is during an epidemic that faith and religion are important bulwarks against fear and despair, and to deny people the right to worship is not only wrong, it violates the most basic of human rights. That is something FDR would have understood. Clearly, it is not something that many of our current leaders grasp.

            1. “I know of younger people who have lost their jobs and their futures, and for what? To protect me?”

              We are dealing with a lot of weak selfish people and power hungry leaders. You have a healthy outlook. They do not.

              I know my risks and the risks of everyone in my family. There is no way I will destroy the lives of my grandchildren to save my own.

          2. COVID restrictions do not cause suicides or drug addiction–untreated mental health and substance abuse problems do. Here in the USA, we don’t value human life in terms of age or anything else–at least for now–but that could change. No one wants that. What public health officials are trying to do is prevent hospitals from getting overrun and incapable of providing care to everyone who needs it, and thus health care getting rationed. How would you like to go to the ER with chest pains, only to find out that there are 50 or 100 or so ahead of you, without enough staff to even triage, and people dying waiting to be seen? That could very well happen. We are close to the breaking point now, with many hospitals maxed out with staffing, including those out sick with COVID. Many hospitals have reached bed capacity, which is partly due to the bean counters taking over health care planning, They aim for 80% or so occupancy in normal times, so when there’s a pandemic, there’s not a lot of slack to take up. They’re calling for retired nurses to return to duty. There’s a story out today of a nurse who answered the call and who died from COVID.

            It is indeed tragic that Trump has so failed in leadership that he’s gotten so many Americans denying the reality of the risk of COVID and questioning whether governors have the right to mandate masks and school closing. His own strategy of refusing to wear a mask and constant testing failed miserably–he, Melania, Don Jr. and his girlfriend all got COVID, but they have access to experimental drugs you cannot get. In fact, the antibody cocktail the fat one received won’t be generally available until well into next year. Every day, the US sets a new COVID record for infections and death, and something must be done. You want statistics? How about the cost for hospitalization and ICU care? How about lost time from work and lives lost? How about the economy, still in a rut, despite the fat man’s promise of a “V” curve, that’s not going to recover until after this pandemic is brought under control? The only way to get this runaway train under control is requiring mask wearing, social distancing, limiting gatherings and contact tracing, but Americans are not listening. Airports reported 3 million passengers were screened in the past couple of days. By Christmastime, the situation could be dire. Voluntary quarantining and isolation are not working, and it is not “sensible” to pretend there’s no crisis going on.

            1. “COVID restrictions do not cause suicides or drug addiction–untreated ”

              OK. Glad to see that you haven’t learned much from all the papers written on the subject. Some of the most vulnerable are the young.

            2. Actually, there is a V-shaped recovery, predicted, if I recall correctly, by an economist who leans Democrat. The stock market is soaring, employment is up in most states, and if there is not another lockdown, the economy should recover with a matter of months, although thousands of small businesses will not and millions of individuals will have difficulty putting their lives back together. But the ‘macro’ economy will be fine, just tilted more toward the internet giants and the multinationals.
              Imagining what might happen is a long way from basing an argument on empirical evidence, the sort of thing novelists do and reporters should not do.
              Every death is a tragedy. I have lived long enough to have buried more than a few friends and relatives, and every one was a loss that could not be replaced. But this virus, while nasty, is not the plague, which had a fatality rate as high as 40 percent in early modern Europe. The virus has one of 0.2 to 0.4 percent. If you adjust for population, the 1957 and 1968 flu epidemics killed almost as many people, but we did not destroy the economy or hide in our basements. The initial reaction to this virus was understandable, and based on ignorance and fueled by fear, but the continued scare-mongering by the media is irresponsible and counterproductive.
              People commit suicide for many reasons, just as people get addicted for many reasons. Meyer is correct — the young commit suicide, teenagers self-harm, and people in their twenties and thirties just give up. Addiction has also be helped along by physicians and pharaceutical companies; it is not just the individual who is to blame, as the opioid ‘epidemic’ which killed so many of our fellows demonstrated.
              Trump did not fail because there was no way that he could have succeeded. Most leaders failed because a virus cannot be ‘contained’ unless you are Norway or Denmark or Taiwan (but the WHO does not admit that Taiwan exists, so perhaps New Zealand would be better) or a one-party dictatorship who has no qualms against sealing its citizens in their apartments. Most countrires with low death rates are rather isolated geographically and have small, homogeneous populations, small families, relatively few outsiders, and citizens who are law-abiding, and they had severe lockdowns and sealed their borders. Sweden did not fare as well as its closest neighbors, but it fared better than many European states. Its death rate was highest among two populations — immigrant communities and the eldery residing in old-age homes (not the elderly generally). Tegna has apologized for the latter because the Swedes did not realize that the virus could be so deadly and spread so quickly in old-age homes. The Swedes could do little about their immigrant communities, but they limited large gatherings, quarantined the ill, and did what they could to prevent the rapid spread of the virus. What they did not do was wreck their economy.
              The Nightingale hospital in London was never used at the height of the epidemic. Nor was the hospital ship Trump sent to New York City. Hospitals were only overwhelmed in a few places (Bergamo comes to mind) and for brief periods, and most ICUs were not overwhelmed. Nor are they likely to be because while cases have increased dramatically, hospitalizations and deaths have not done so.
              It would be wonderful if we could have a calm, informed discussion about the virus, instead of imagining the worst, generalizing from isolated cases, and politicizing its course. Whatever you think of Trump, he did no worse than the leaders in the EU, nor did Fauci give any better advice than the members of SAGE in the UK. Norway, Finland, and Denmark have been exceptions, and in the United States, the governors have made policy with regard to the virus, not the federal government. So you might want to save your ire for Cuomo rather than waste it on Trump, because if you take out New York’s deaths, the virus actually killed fewer people than the Asian flu in ’57 (adjusted for population, of course).
              What is worrisome is the amount of misinformation circulating and the extent to which the epidemic has been deployed to achieve political ends and enable governors to usurp legislative powers, the sort of thing that led the Weimar Republic to become the Third Reich.

              1. “What is worrisome is the amount of misinformation circulating and the extent to which the epidemic has been deployed to achieve political ends and enable governors to usurp legislative powers, the sort of thing that led the Weimar Republic to become the Third Reich.”

                Old guy, with age you developed wisdom, something that many on this blog will never see. Some have a hard enough time trying to develop the intellect most achieve by the time they become adults.

                We should be grading the failures that we have seen not based on what they should have done rather on what they did that was stupid. Governor Cuomo won an Emmy for killing thousands of seniors and permitting Metropolitan NY to transmit heavy loads of the virus in the transportation system. A few other Democrat Governors should have a supporting role in assisting Nursing Home patients to reach their ultimate demise so much quicker than they would have had those governors not put Covid positive people among their Nursing Home patients.

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Res ipsa loquitur – The thing itself speaks