Alternate history:

Trump takes full control of virus response. Closes borders to everyone, fast-tracks vaccine deployment etc.

The cathedral articles that were written early on about how the virus is really no worse than the flu and you only think it is for psychological reasons never stop being written. They become the dominant narrative, now with the terrifying addition that "an authoritarian is using coronavirus as a pretence to take absolute power..."

Virus deaths are determined much more rigorously, and caveats are included for deaths from the virus with pre-existing conditions. The death statistics are much lower than they are in our history.

Vaccine horror stories are hyped, as is "America's dark history of medical experimentation on minority communities..." Civil liberties groups fight in the courts to stop the deployment of the vaccine.

The cathedral runs countless op-eds and explainers on cost-benefit analysis and "quality-adjusted life years." Fact checks read: "The Trump administration has claimed that without its strict measures, we would have the equivalent of a 9/11 of Covid-19 deaths every day - FALSE. Most deaths with covid-19 [they would use the term "deaths with" not "deaths from"] are due to other pre-existing conditions. In QALY terms, the virus is no more dangerous than..." The same would be true if the administration claimed they saved people from more deaths than WWII (the number the cathedral claims he condemned in our timeline).

Every night there are heart-wrenching segments on the news about the human cost of the restrictions - the same ones the cathedral has so assiduously ignored over the past year. Maybe one of them is about an innocent black man called George Floyd who was "murdered in broad daylight by a police officer for no other reason than he wasn't wearing a mask."

The Trump administration has no natural support for its restrictions from much of its constituency and other republican leaders. He is "at odds with former supporters like Florida governor Ron DeSantis." Maybe there's even another effort to "impeach and remove this tyrant for his hideous and cynical attack on democracy." Maybe there's even enough republican support for removal.

This is all speculative fiction obviously, but to me it seems a much more likely alternate history than the one where Trump succeeds in stopping the virus and is still president right now. The truth is, no response would have been the right one, no good outcome was possible - for all of the reasons found in Gray Mirror.

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Will we ever find out why "Wuhan Corona Virus" was racist but "Brazilian Variant", "South African Variant", and "UK Variant" are 100% *science*?

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There are some incorrect points. Fields of science can be killed by other scientists who decide on the funding. This slowly happened to Physical Organic Chemistry in the 1990s and 2000s after it was heavily pushed during the Cold War because it was thought of as important. Over a period of maybe a decade funding decisions presided over by chemists meeting in DC and reading grant proposals selected out these projects and anyone who was doing this sort of thing soon had to switch fields or survive on tenure without a research group. There were some holdouts, and the field has seen a bit of a renaissance, but the field is far from its glory days.

It is also quite easy to create quite useless fields of science by appealing to non-science trained bureaucrats. I believe that the field of nanotechnology for example, has used blatant falsehoods in its 'advertising' and delivered very little of what it promised in medicine or practical devices. In fact, a lot of the successes in the field are simply things that would have been called something else and were worked on previously, before the famous saying developed in the science departments that "Nano is Latin for funding".

The most important thing however, is that the structure of Western science is based on exponential growth in people power. This is especially true today when the professor is really busy and is basically just a manager who has to write grants. The experiments have to be done by the students and postdocs, who are only there for 5 or 3 years respectively, and have to find a job afterwards. They don't have much supervision often, and are forced to incentivize papers over curiosity. While this was desirable and possible for much of the 20th century to expand the scientific workforce, since once you graduate you were assured of a job even if you didn't want to go into academia, at some point the exponential function means that every person in your country is a research scientist at some point to keep the whole thing going. As jobs become scarce, there is more competition for credentialism and crappy papers to make yourself stand out. The best universities are not immune and the students there have to produce even more than those at a #50 university who feel if they don't publish at least a few crappy papers, they will have no chance on the market. In the 1970s if you wanted to and had just a couple of decent papers, you could become a professor right after your PhD. This is impossible today. There is no appetite for letting your curiosity dictate what you do.

To become a really good scientist, I feel that you should probably be in the lab for at least a decade, but this is exactly the point of time when the majority quit to go into industry or alternative careers, and those who become professors become managers who write papers and grants and never go into the lab again. This is line with exhausting the possibilities of a limited 'continent'. The scientific enterprise was set up wrong for the long term as it makes it almost impossible to have a research career as a basic experimental scientist for the entirety of your working life, or at least 20 years (which should guarantee some good discovery for a capable person). Of course it's easier for theoretical people to do their density functional theory calculations on clusters, but even they have to compete against a flood of papers and credentialism caused by the exponential function hitting a ceiling.

In fact, there may be something to the old Soviet system of institutes where you had guaranteed employment and a fixed salary along with requirements to publish in crappy domestic journals whenever you wanted, meant your only ambition was in discovering something interesting. Along with the usual political infighting of course. This system also exists in the German and Japanese research institutes to an extent as well. There is again the problem of one big boss presiding over a group that actually does the work that are poorly compensated due to oversaturation of willing fodder for the exponential function. But there is some security for good enough pay to survive if you want it. You can do the boss' experiments and yours on the side. Since the boss never goes into the lab to check, they will not notice.

In fact, that is why I choose to work where I do now. A research institute where I get some small guaranteed funding to do whatever I want. As long as I publish one paper a year they don't care as the administration are not experts in my field. However, I am apparently not that smart since I haven't had any big breakthrough yet. I thought I did... but it got shot down from the three best journals. Well, people who are smarter than me are more ambitious and take the highly paid jobs in Harvard. A loss to the field. They become paper pushers for their legion of labcoated zerglings who have a five year lifespan.

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Thanks for the shout-out to my lame home-country in the South Pacific, a true case study in confirmation bias.

As for the rest, fantastic as usual. I'm still not sure why we should even be caring so much about a virus less lethal than the flu to under 70-year-olds.

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Mr. Yarvin, I just re-read your posts about Will Wilkerson, then went and, this time through, fully read his posts about you. I cannot tell if you are being a gentleman when you flatter him a fine writer, or if you actually believe it. The man’s writing is bloating and flabby, he resorts to the thesaurus when he suspects what he is about to say has no force. It ruined my night trying to chew through his “Climbing the Bell Curve to the Cathedral.”

He writes with the strategy of an academic, that is, devolve into high-sounding, mechanical cant once you (subconsciously) realize your pen is flaccid. That way, the reader will be so turned off that he will stop reading, but he might assume, your jargon being above him, that you know what you’re talking about.

His tenor, also, is effeminate and wounded. Reads like he is dictating his wife.

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Hey Curtis, there's a minor error you made about the Chinese monarch in the your past poasts and podcast appearances, it is not Premier Xi, it is Chairman Xi or General Secretary Xi. Like I said, a minor error, I don't mind it because it's chabuduo :)

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From every angle it appeared that the oligarchy wanted the virus to get worse before it got better. They wanted Trump out any means necessary. Which is why Nancy was in Chinatown dancing and Fauci was saying don't wear masks.

I also don't see Gate's name anywhere, who has taken every advantage as an oligarch to proclaim that we are going to fundamentally reshape the world, accellerated by a virus he helped fund.

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Viruses tend to evolve to be less lethal over time. Otherwise the flu would kill you every year, along with the hundreds of other viruses you've been exposed to. If you're a virus, you don't want your victim to get deadly sick - and stay home. There are exceptions where that doesn't apply, but its stuff like waterborne illnesses, not flu like pathogens.

Its possible the first strains of the virus did kill 2%+ of infected. That would explain the disaster in Italy, New York, thr diamond princess, etc, during the first months. And why we haven't seen anything like that since.

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Why should we trust the scientific institutions which inflicted this virus on the world? Eco Health Alliance. The firemen are also the arsonists.

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Is money still flowing to gain-of-function research? Wouldn't be surprised.

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As someone who is thinking of eventually getting a PhD this again makes me wonder if things are any different in Asia. There's certainly a few Western dissidents I know of scattered among the Japanese universities for example.

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"The well-known stagnation in technical progress may have many causes"

I've suspected that we've been stagnating for a while but it's hard to prove/quantify this. Maybe this is just me but I suspect that increasingly modern technological advancement is more incremental improvements than actual novel inventions.

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In no particular order:

sequence data is here: https://nextstrain.org/sars-cov-2/

They've sequenced about 700k genomes from all over the world, and the mutation rate is pretty much what they said it would be. If you don't believe the sequence data, you'd have to believe some very complicated conspiracy theories.

Even the 96% close isolate (isaolated ~6 years ago) that everyone thought was the original lab strain they supposedly modified is about 50 years of evolution away from the new one.

That evidence shows that the route from [bat cave isolation of 96% similar isolate 6years ago] -> lab -> Lab induced adaptation -> release in the meat market, doesn't hold.

Never underestimate incompetence, the possibility that they simply isolated a totally different strain and that leaked in the market is most likely possibility from among the wuhan lab fuckup theories.

The sad thing is that the real way to fight these pathogens is by sequencing many many more of these organisms not less. It's the only way to keep up with these dynamically evolving viruses. There is one project where they built these machines that captured mosquitos in cities, in the wild and sequence the blood and look for pathogens in them. This would give you a view of what is circulating in the population and gives you a heads up on novel strains that are emerging. [rationale: If they are emerging, they are virulent] That is what we ought to be doing, but also with bats, and the space of this particular host is vast, they are not affected by the virus cause they have a very high body temperature, plus they Fly!!

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I indeed would have guessed 160.

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"Of course the apex of 20th-century science was the wartime mating of prewar science and its ethos of honorable curiosity, with the strong right arm and fist of government. World War II may easily have equaled twenty years of scientific progress; nor did its momentum die with peace."

Richard Feynman maintained that the war retarded science and practically ground scientific progress to a halt for its duration.

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