Which hoax? We live in an age of hoaxes, so there's a lot of competition for the honor of being the cruelest hoax of all. My vote still goes to the Covid hoax. I base that on the sheer unprecedented amount of damage done by this hoax: business failures, unemployment, hockdowns, depression and its attendant ills, education stoppages that hurt the poorest students most, mass fear bordering on--and not infrequently exceeding--hysteria, widespread paranoia and the breakdown of social solidarity. And last but not least--perversely mistaken withholding of effective treatments (the HCQ regime and Ivermectin) in favor of dangerous and often fatal "treatments", such as mechanical ventilation, leading to far too many unnecessary deaths. Most of this damage was inflicted in knowing violation of all scientific and medical norms regarding viruses in general and coronaviruses in particular. Now we're witnessing the rush to lift many of the absurd measures that were taken--simply because Trump has been ousted by our ruling oligarchy. Which leads to the very reasonable supposition that this was an essentially political hoax that took advantage of unscientific hysteria that was propagated with a purpose.
This morning my wife, listening to her usual CBS news radio, heard a preview of a story to come later. It seems "many doctors are "puzzled" because they haven't seen a single case of flu this whole flu season. I think we've all glanced at these stories about the mysterious disappearance of the flu. What's going on?
I found an article that goes into the matter in quite a bit of detail, without offering a definitive answer: Why Has the Flu Disappeared?
There appears to be a lot of overlap among diseases with "flu-like symptoms"--a well known and standard statistical categoy. All you have to do is search on "flu-like symptoms" to get the idea. One guess might be that Professor Ioannides out at Stanford may be right--that the Covid coronavirus is extremely widespread, but that most persons who come in contact with it (most of us?) don't even know it. But that could mean that the coronavirus prevents the flu virus from taking hold:
Another theory centers on viral interference, which is the phenomenon in which a cell infected by a virus becomes resistant to other viruses; basically, cells are rarely infected with more than one virus, so COVID-19 could be winning out over influenza.
But there are problems with this theory, as well. In any event, read the article. It simply reinforces what we know, namely, that there has been an appalling lack of transparency throughout this whole hoax, which has facilitated its political weaponization. You can also watch the video that accompanies the article. It features statistician William M. Briggs, who notes:
“CDC, up until about July 2020, counted flu and pneumonia deaths separately, been doing this forever, then just mysteriously stopped … It’s become very difficult to tell the difference between these,” referring to the combined tracking of deaths from “PIC” [Pneumonia, Influenza, Covid].
Here's the video featuring Briggs:
Coincidentally--or, most likely, not--Briggs wrote an interesting article a few days ago regarding another major contender for cruelest hoax of all: the 2020 Election Hoax. Naturally, as a statistician, he has a lot to say about election fraud. Or not, as the case may be. It's an amusingly cynical article, in a rather dark way. Here's how he begins:
In the sense that matters, Joe Biden won the election. Sure, Donald Trump may have won more votes in more states, and he was surely cheated out of votes in several others. But he lost. And Biden won.
We know Biden won because it will be he that is sworn in next week and not Trump. It’s tough to swallow, but that’s what’s happening.
If a party cheats, and is in charge of investigating accusations of cheating, and if the media calls the cheating a conspiracy theory, and if the rulers move to expel those who question the cheating, as has already happened, then that party will win by virtue of its power.
This is the way power works.
Which seems pretty inarguable. Briggs goes on to note that election cheating has always been a part of the American Way--call it American Exceptionalism as applied to electoral democracy. However, 2020 was beyond the norm, due--in his opinion--to the bipartisan collusion, which is what gave the election its hoax character. Or its 'farcical' character--you can argue with Briggs as to the mot juste:
... the Republicans who were supposed to be watching out for their candidate’s interest should have seen what happened coming, and prepared against it.
Instead, the election night turned into a grade D French farce — Trump well ahead in crucial states at sundown, his lead collapsing when the lights went off. This suggests that the party professing support for Trump was not exactly in earnest.
The thing about cheating is that, while in the aftermath it can be papered over, while it's actually occurring it's almost impossible to hide--as Dan Gelernter notes this morning (Are Big Tech and Big Government Overplaying Their Hand?):
The principle behind this analysis is simple and even elegant: It is easy enough to cheat—to falsify data, say, by feeding in a bunch of extra ballots for your preferred candidate. But to do so in a natural-looking way is hard, because tampering with just one part of a whole system makes that part stand out. It may not be obvious to the casual observer, but statistical analysis is like a blacklight revealing flaws invisible to the human eye.
And so Briggs writes:
Not every theory of cheating put forward as conclusive was as strong as was touted, but that was to be expected given the nature of the effort.
Check it out. Then decide which hoax did more damage. Perhaps its apples and oranges, or corona and flu: distinct yet intertwined.