Fake news, Truth and Tradition

Today there was a peculiar newspaper in the letter box. It’s called “The Epoch Times,” has eight pages and is further in Dutch. Effort has been made. It is a pamphlet that tries to work for Trump and against China. There will probably be reasons for this, but those mentioned seem to argue more against Trump and for China than the reverse. I quote from the “Editor’s Note” (some sort of editorial).

“Understanding the Chinese regime’s lack of morality and corruption helps us to fundamentally understand how to view this pandemic.”

As if in our Western hemisphere a fundamental understanding of the pandemic would be fostered by understanding the lack of morality and corruption of the Chinese regime rather than understanding the (the lack of?) morality and the integrity (corruption?) of our own regimes.

I do not know. At the moment, I am using models to get a grip on the pandemic that hit us. Pandemics caused by new viruses take some time to be recognized as such. It started in Wuhan. Let me give two figures that compare the courses of the COVID-19 pandemic in China and in the USA. First China, where the contamination started sometime in December 2019 (the first deaths were reported there on January 24, 2020) and then the USA (where the first coronavirus deaths were reported on March 6, 2020. These are numbers harvested from https://worldometers.info that are in agreement with figures from the WHO, John Hopkins, Oxford and the EU.

Fig. 1: Algoritme 0 calibrated for China (cesuur week 7, R-zero 1.80)

Fig. 1 shows a picture taken on day 140 of the pandemic, assuming that algorithm 0 provides a useful model for the first phase of an as yet unknown epidemic with a reproduction number of 1.80 and that the onset is December 29, 2019 (these were the data as available on March 16, the day I set up the model). The model fits the observations when we accept that the pandemic did not start in late December, but de facto in early February (the New Year’s festival?). Then, on day 35 (February 2), there are suddenly 43 deaths and the growth in the number of infections is evidently exponential. These numbers are in the right side of the Fig.1.

Perhaps an explanation for the climate in which the recorded numbers of infections and deaths develop can be found in the measures taken. Around day 35 the lock downs are ordained. I further quote from wikipedia: “Huoshenshan Hospital is an emergency specialty field hospital constructed from January 23, 2020 to February 2, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.” February 2 is day 35. On day 49 (February 16) there is a week in which exponential growth is inhibited, to return on day 56 (February 23) until day 70 (March 3), after which date the pandemic dies out in China. On day 140 (May 15), China has 4633 registered coronavirus deaths.

China has brought the pandemic under control at the expense of lockdowns, the construction of emergency hospitals and isolation measures. That has come at the expense of shutdown, economically speaking, that lasted from day 35 to day 103, just over two months. Day 35 was part of the Chinese New Year’s festival. Out of a total population of 1.4 billion, facing an unknown coronavirus with a high potential for infection and an outbreak during the period of the ubiquitous migrations that come with the New Year’s festival, the Chinese regime has (for the time being!) managed to control the pandemic at the cost of, roughly, 83 thousand infections and fewer than 5 thousand deaths, and with the realization of an economy that is starting up again after two months of interruption.

Then the United States of America:

Fig. 2: Algoritme 0 calibrated for the USA (cesuur in week 17, R-zero 2.00)

For the support of a regime in a country like the USA with a population of roughly 331 million, 1.3 million infections and 78 thousand deaths, and a pandemic still in full swing, and, moreover with constitutional conflicts over the legality of measures, the Chinese policy and its efficacies are a threatening thought. For the USA regime looking for and finding guilty parties may prove to be a life saver. The copy of the Epoch Times (under the motto: “truth and tradition”) that fell into my letter box is a living example of what Mary Douglas raises in her 1992 book Risk and Blame.

Wikipedia says the Epoch Times is being created by an organization that spreads propaganda for Trump and his ideas, and also financially supports his campaign. It is a mystery to me why I get that newspaper.

All I can think of is that Trump is fueling his own guerrilla war with fake news weapons, with the aim of commanding the attention and respect of those who consider him a charlatan. Because Trump is by no means harmless and naive, it does not seem prudent to dismiss this as hopeless. Buddy, Stickler, Winner and Node will go into further conclave about this and report elsewhere.