Virus Alarmism … Or Not

[NOTE: This post has been UPDATED]

Heather Mac Donald has a typically (for her) superb article on the “misguided response to COVID-19.” I encourage everyone to read it. But…

I just sent her the following comments:

This piece is terrific, as usual!
I admit, however, to feeling some uncomfortable dissonance between my view of the social/political situation, about which I completely agree with you, and my personal situation, where I’ve come to believe that responding more in line with the extreme/alarmist views makes the most sense.
Specifically, I usually play tennis (doubles), indoors until late spring, around three times a week, with players in a group of about 35 or so other geezers. I enjoy this, it’s my main exercise, and to date, to the best of my knowledge, only 18 cases have been identified in Virginia, none near Charlottesville. But I’ve decided to put it on hold for now, with what my wife Helene regards as encouragement but what is in fact a non-negotiable demand; she, after all, is also giving up swimming every day.
Playing requires “exposure” not only to the three other players each time but also to all those present at the large sports club where we play.
Given current knowledge, my chance of coming down with the virus because of this tennis appear to be ridiculously slim. BUT, in the absence of testing, our current knowledge of how many people may now be carrying the virus is virtually non-existent, not to mention by next Tuesday, Thursday, etc.
In short, given the currently apparent slimness of the risk, continuing to play can be defended as a reasonable gamble. But the effect of gambling and losing is so extreme that it hardly seems worth the risk, however small (but in the absence of data, we don’t know how small). Much as I enjoy the tennis, it’s not essential.
For what it’s worth, our daughter, Jessie, a very smart physicist who is not an alarmist, whose keel is always even, recommends this course. On the other hand, one of the guys in my group, also a very smart physicist, who until retirement was provost at a prominent state university, is ambivalent but is continuing to play. (He was so ambivalent that I told him it was very helpful talking to him since no matter what I decided to do I could rely on him for authority.)

I hope my decision not to play will prove to have been alarmist, dumb, and unnecessary.

UPDATE 15 March

Last night the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot reported that Virginia now has 41 confirmed cases of COVID-19, up from 30 the day before. 18 of these are in Northern Virginia — not surprising, since, the Washington Post reports, “the number of covid-19 cases in the D.C. region is doubling every 48 hours.”

If you followed my advice (and link) and read Heather Mac Donald’s article, you should follow it again and read John McCormack’s strongly argued different view in National Review.

Babylon Wanna-Bee

As most of you know, the Babylon Bee is a hilarious satire site. In fact, since the Dems, Libs, and Progs have become so deranged it has become so difficult to tell satire from reality that Instapundit has for a long time been referring to the Bee as our newspaper of record.

In that spirit, here’s my suggestion for a Bee-like entry:

Democrats oppose Trump administration’s restriction on travelers entering the U.S. from China for fear that some Muslims might be excluded

Fearing an angry response from the Democratic base, as soon as Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi learned that 1% to 2% of the Chinese population is Muslim they rushed to oppose the Trump administration’s ban….

Washington State: Another Attempt To Revive Affirmative Action

Even readers with short memories will recall that Minding The Campus published my three essays covering the duplicitous attempt of Washington State Democrats to bring back affirmative action, which had been prohibited in a 1998 referendum. But in case anyone has forgotten: A Duplicitous Attempt to Rescue Affirmative Action Washington State Voters Reject Affirmative Action, Again Tricking […]

Politicized History

I have a new rather long essay on Minding The Campus, “Playing Politics With History,” that I invite — no, encourage — you to see. I often describe myself as a lapsed historian, and writing this reminded me of some old times. One of those times is described in the second half, or perhaps last […]

The New Yorker Discards “Diversity,” Embraces Discrimination

I encourage readers to take a look at a new article (because the article is quite long, it will have to be a long look)  in The New Yorker by Louis Menand defending affirmative action. I will have more — probably much more — to say about it presently, but at the moment I am […]

Campus Follies I

Folly, noun: lack of good sense; foolishness…. I’ve numbered this post “Campus Follies I” because, for some reason, I have a feeling more examples will follow. In any event, Inside Higher Ed reports this morning that Iowa State University has adopted a policy prohibiting writing messages in chalk on campus sidewalks because, say the policy’s defenders, […]

Virginia Turning Blue

No, it’s not what you think. Take a look at this map. According to the Virginia Citizens Defense League, the blue counties below have passed Second Amendment sanctuary provisions, with more on the way. To date, there are 93 Second Amendment Sanctuary counties, cities, and towns. A complete list of them, and a list of […]

Lessons From Washington State

Washington Referendum 88: Incomplete Results

EXTRA! EXTRA! Washington Rejects Racial Preference!

A Duplicitous Attempt To Rescue Racial Preference

Harvard Won. Fairness Lost. Release 2.0

Harvard Won. Fairness Lost

More On Making Physics “Welcoming”

Doing Physics While Black

An Ill Wind At Stanford

Charlottesville Still Roiled By Race