The Logic of Deadly Decisions 1 - Chinese Conmen

It's hard to make good decisions as advised by known liars.

We live in absolutely unprecedented times, as the world grapples with...

Well, what exactly?  What have you seen?  What have you witnessed?  Other than stores without toilet paper and empty streets, have you seen anything strange at all?

Unless Scragged reaches into higher stratas of our power structure than we have just cause to believe, it is highly likely that nobody reading this article has directly seen any evidence whatsoever of the existence of Wuhan Flu, coronavirus, COVID-19, or whatever the politically-correct name is this week.

What's more, even if you were literally staring at the virus under an electron microscope, it wouldn't mean anything to you unless you are a qualified biochemist.  Even then, unless you are an actual virus researcher (who has better things to do at the moment than gawk), you'd still just be taking the word of whoever was telling you that you were looking specifically at the COVID-19 virus.

This is perfectly normal.  Very few of us have personally been to space to observe and witness the fact that the world is round; yet, very few of us question the truth of that assertion.

There is simply so much knowledge available today that it's impossible for any one person to independently verify all, or even more than the tiniest fraction, of it.  We have no choice but to reach conclusions based on the word of others, combined with whatever evidence they present or we can accumulate.

Yet as we've documented countless times, our so-called "authorities" are very far from trustworthy.  Even when they aren't intentionally lying - as the media, in particular, does routinely - they often don't really understand what they're trying to explain and get it horribly garbled.

So this current global pandemic panic provides a fantastic opportunity to examine the logic of how we make decisions about what is real and what is not.  What's more, we can look at how we decide what actions are appropriate in response to what we perceive.

There's Something Happening Here

When reports first started to surface of a new disease in Wuhan, China, it was difficult for anyone to conclusively determine the nature, extent, or pretty much anything solid about what was going on.

This was no accident: one of the first doctors to report that "something was up" was visited by the police, then mysteriously whisked away.  Several citizen journalists reporting on the outbreak suffered a similar fate.  As dictatorships have done since time immemorial, the instinctive response to bad news is to cover it up - sometimes literally.

The Chinese government and Communist party have a decades-long history of lying, cheating, and stealing.  Only a fool would take them at their word.  So when President Trump wondered aloud whether the entire world was being hoaxed, he wasn't simply whistling past the graveyard himself - he had a legitimate cause to consider this possibility.  Despite the media criticism, what he said was an entirely rational concern based on the sordid history of a known bad actor.

Even with this specific epidemic, the Chinese government has provided solid evidence of their bad intentions, putting forward a global propaganda campaign about racism against Chinese people in Italy based on fear of the virus:

When Massimiliano Martigli Jiang stood blindfolded in the middle of Florence next to a sign reading “I am not a virus, I am a human being, free me from prejudice”, he was overwhelmed by the touching reactions he got from fellow residents and tourists.

Yes, Mr. Jiang is indeed a human being and not personally a virus, but at the time, most of the virus carriers in Italy were in fact Chinese.  Now that Italy now has more confirmed coronavirus cases than China admits, this hardly seems the most helpful point to have made.  In contrast, closing the borders to China, which most all countries now have done, and to each other as well, seems far more sensible and constructive than waving signs and soliciting possibly-infectious hugs.

We also see Chinese blaming the virus on nefarious Americans on exactly no evidence, and not sharing highly relevant data which would have helped the world avoid a great many deaths by reacting weeks sooner.

So, back in February, solely from the evidence available at the time, there was only one thing we could be sure of: we were being lied to by the Chinese government.

Nothing has happened since then to convince us otherwise.  As a rich Communist dictatorship, China has the power, competency, and complete lack of morals to create a deadly global fraud.

Italy, on the other hand, has none of the above.  It's entirely possible for China to have created the incident out of whole cloth by releasing the virus and lying about its effects.  It is neither possible nor plausible for Italy to do that.

The footage we see of Italian army vehicles hauling away scores of coffins is, therefore, almost certainly real.  A century of Italian history gives absolutely no reason to believe that the famously-feckless Italian government has either the amorality or the competence to put together any kind of effective conspiracy, particularly one involving even a few genuine corpses.

What's more, there are a great many Americans in Italy, unlike in China where our reporters have been expelled.  Even without personally being present, as is the well-known American Newt Gingrich, there is compelling evidence that large numbers of Italians are dying from...something.

Here we approach the intersection of remote evidence with real experience.  Most of us know somebody who has been to Italy; maybe we've been there ourselves.  If it was normal for Army trucks to convoy around Italian cities hauling away corpses, we'd know that from direct evidence or from the word of someone whom we trust who had cause to know.

Therefore, based on a combination of evidence from multiple sources, decades of accumulated knowledge of how different countries operate, and backed up at various points by personal experience or direct connections, it starts to become more logical to believe that something seriously fatal is going on in Italy.

Furthermore, based on our accumulated observations of how diseases work, plus other evidence going back to elementary school, it is not unlikely that the Italian problem is directly related to problems being reported elsewhere, including the original Wuhan issue.  It is conceivable that there might be two completely different, but similar-appearing, diseases exploding in different parts of the globe - but since we haven't seen one like this in living memory, two at the same time is improbable.  Unless specific evidence to the contrary were presented, we instinctively dismiss that possibility.

What It Is Ain't Exactly Clear

Thus we reach our initial conclusion: that there is indeed a new disease afoot which is killing people in noticeable numbers; that it originated in China but has now spread, at the very least, to diverse parts of the world; and that it is fairly contagious, but not instantly deadly like any number of fictional zombie plagues or the Ebola virus.  Coronavirus is real, it is not a fraud, and it causes genuine harm to real people, though not to everyone.

But this could not have been confidently known until quite recently - just around the time, it so happens, that President Trump started shutting down travel from China and then Europe, an obvious and sensible precaution once the evidence indicated we weren't being scammed.  The tragic aspect of his actions were that he was criticized for racism for shutting down air travel to and from Wuhan, and that he would have done this weeks earlier had the Chinese been more forthcoming with facts they had in their possession.

So, we know it's real now.  This seems like it might be all we need to know.  In reality, it barely scratches the surface.

The knowledge we have, and the logical chain that develops from it, are plenty to cause us to worry.  But they're nowhere near close to enough information to decide what responses would be rational, particularly considering the dire consequences of many of those decision.  We'll take a look at that in the next article in this series.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Petrarch or other articles on Economics.
Reader Comments

Excellent piece.
"With apologies to Buffalo Springfield......."

March 25, 2020 10:18 AM

"Wuhan Flu, coronavirus, COVID-19, or whatever the politically-correct name is this week."

Nope - this is still not a valid point to make. Coronavirus has been the most popular way to refer to the virus since December according to Google Trends (search terms). Wuhan virus barely even registers. Anyone calling it that today clearly has an agenda.

March 25, 2020 3:57 PM
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