August 4, 2020

How to Read Covid-19 Research (and Actually Understand It)

How to Read Covid-19 Research (and Actually Understand It)

Here is a helpful article from Wired magazine (hat tip; Chaplain Mike) on ways to discern whether a scientific article on Covid-19 is useful or not.  Of course, one way to judge an article is whether it lines up with one’s ideological bias or not.  That assumes one’s goal is ideological purity.  Ideological purity maintains that one is in good standing with ones in-group or tribe; and that is very important to some people.  I’m not being facetious here; holding opinions against one’s group of friends can be difficult and stressful.

But if one is willing to drill down and try to approach the truth as closely as possible, the Wired article has some useful advice.  Covid-19 is a new disease so studies are coming out of labs and research facilities at a rapid pace:

  1. Some studies are small and anecdotal and are not rigorously vetted.
  2. Others are based on bad data or misplaced assumptions.
  3. Many are released as preprints without peer review.
  4. Others are hyped up with big press releases that overstate the results.

The article cites hydroxychloroquine, the antimalarial drug that appeared promising in the early stages of the pandemic as an example.  Early anecdotal evidence from China seemed to show the drug might have some benefits and an early trial in France seemed promising.  Once a large-scale, double-blind trial found the drug didn’t hurt patients, but didn’t help them, either, the FDA finally revoked its emergency use authorization for the drug on June 15.

So how do readers without a research or medical background who just want to know what’s going on and how to stay healthy approach this myriad of data?  The article cites the Novel Coronavirus Research Compendium (NCRC).  The team includes statisticians, epidemiologists, and experts on vaccines, clinical research, and disease modeling; who rapidly review new studies and make reliable information accessible to the public.  The key for the non-expert is to be looking at where a study was published, what data it uses, and how it fits into the larger body of scientific research.

  1. “First step: Look at where it was published. That can offer clues about things like whether the research is finished or still in revision, if it’s been reviewed by other scientists, or whether it’s rigorous enough to be accepted by top journals like the Journal of the American Medical Association, The Lancet, or The New England Journal of Medicine.”

If a study’s design or data don’t live up to the journal’s standards, they might reject it entirely.  Then, during peer review, the study is even more closely examined for mistakes, and sent back to the authors with suggestions for ways to make the paper stronger. The authors then revise their paper to address those concerns.  Sometimes scientists don’t want to wait for the lengthy peer review process to conclude before they publish their research, especially during this pandemic, when their information could help other scientists. So while their article is under review at a journal, the researchers might also publish the paper on a preprint server.  These papers are essentially drafts, and readers should be wary about immediately drawing big conclusions from them.  If a paper isn’t published in a journal or on a preprint server at all, but instead shows up on a personal website or as a press release without any data attached, that’s probably a red flag to take those conclusion with a huge grain of salt.

  1. Know the Format. If a reader wants to dive into reading primary literature, they shouldn’t approach a study like a book or a news article.

A typical study has six major parts (from the Wired article):

  1. They generally begin with an abstract, which briefly describes the question the researchers were trying to answer, what data they collected, and what the results were.
  2. Then the introduction and literature review sections set the stage and tell readers more about the ideas the researchers were exploring and what previous studies have found.
  3. The methods section explains exactly how the study was conducted, which allows other researchers to repeat the experiment to see if they get the same results.
  4. Results. What the study found in terms of the actual data.
  5. Discussion. Where the authors will reveal what they found and talk about its significance.
  6. Conclusions. Which make some larger claims and start to pre-hypothesize about future studies and new work that should be done.

The article notes it can be easy to miss what distinguishes the actual findings from that more speculative part.  That speculative part is important—it points to the future and it starts a conversation about how to move the field forward. But it shouldn’t be confused with what a particular study found.

  1. Go for the Gold Standards. There are a few best practices for medical studies that show the research methods are rigorous. “One is that the study has a control or placebo group. That neutral group doesn’t get the drug or treatment at all and can be directly compared with the groups that did. Another is that the study is a randomized “double-blind” trial, in which neither the test subjects nor the scientists know who received the placebo and who got the active drug”.  However, an observational study that includes good data and a big enough sample size can still be useful and informative.
  2. Beware Shocking Claims. Don’t immediately buy into claims that are wildly inconsistent with what previous research has shown. New, groundbreaking findings make great headlines, but they rarely make good science.

Any one study is not definitive.  “Science builds on itself slowly. Findings have to be reviewed by other experts and then replicated in different settings and populations before the community is ready to make any really big claims.”  Final money quote from the article:

“Most of it is incremental steps, showing the data moving in the right direction,” says Jason McLellan, a virologist who studies coronaviruses, including MERS, SARS, and the one that causes Covid-19, at the University of Texas at Austin. He advises readers to be cautious about getting too excited about that one study that will answer everything. In science, he says, “there’s never any absolutes.”

Another point I would have added is “beware the cherry-pickers”.  A good scientist will weigh all sides and even welcome contrary criticism.  But the ideological-minded ignores or minimizes the contrary data and only cites the data that supports their ideology.

Well, I hope that helps.  I get really annoyed with people who expect scientists to speak in absolutes.  A scientist will make a statement and later, as more data emerges, changes that statement, or even contradicts it.  But the ideological-minded person hears a statement from a scientist and thinks that statement is absolute.  When the scientist changes their mind with the acquisition of additional data, something good scientist are supposed to do, then the ideological-minded person gets all bent out of shape and starts whining about “how you can’t trust experts”.  What utter nonsense.  All science is provisional.

And I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating; if you are not going to “trust” experts, who are you going to trust?  Someone with no education on the subject and no real-life experience working with the subject?  How the hell is that any better?  Oh, wait, I know…  someone whose biases align with mine.  Yeah, that’s how you get to the bottom truth of something!  /sarcasm off

 

Comments

  1. Robert F says

    And I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating; if you are not going to “trust” experts, who are you going to trust? Someone with no education on the subject and no real-life experience working with the subject? How the hell is that any better? Oh, wait, I know… someone whose biases align with mine. Yeah, that’s how you get to the bottom truth of something! /sarcasm off

    The POTUS is telling people to trust Chuck Woolery above Dr. Fauci, the White House has taken control of coronavirus data coming out of the hospitals away from the CDC. These are big, big problems for leadership in the epoch of coranavirus. It feed off of, and feeds, the worst antiscience and anti-expert reflexes of the American populace. I’m quickly losing trust in the official agencies that should be guiding us through this crisis as a result of this administration’s intentional subversion of them to corrupt and spin data to its own political advantage. It will lead to human death and even more societal damage than has occurred already. It’s hard to see how good science can be effective when leadership is intentionally knocking the legs out from under it.

    • Fortunately, the data is getting and will get into the hands of people who will properly analyze it.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      The POTUS is telling people to trust Chuck Woolery above Dr. Fauci, the White House has taken control of coronavirus data coming out of the hospitals away from the CDC.

      The CDC is Disloyal.
      Henceforth, all numbers will come from Trump Tower and ONLY from Trump Tower.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      The POTUS is telling people to trust Chuck Woolery above Dr. Fauci…

      Because Fauci is DISLOYAL and Woolery is LOYAL, and that is all the matters.

  2. Robert F says

    Thanks for this post, Mike. Helping laypeople understand how to distinguish good scientific data from bad information is crucial at this time, and especially when one of the most antiscience and anti-expertise people in the country is also its leader.

  3. Thank you Mike. Very informative.

  4. Here’s an example of good reporting on covid19 vaccine development and testing in the early stage;

    Dr. Paul Offit, an infectious disease expert at the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said that the neutralizing antibodies and other immune responses were a good sign, but that it was not known yet whether they would actually protect people against the virus, or how long they would last. The side effects are a “small price to pay” for protection against a potentially severe disease, he said, though fever may be a cause for concern once the vaccine is given to large numbers of people.

    “You always worry that fever, especially high fever, could lead to other things,” Dr. Offit said, adding that only a large controlled study can determine whether the vaccine is truly safe and effective.

    Otherwise, “it’s reading the tea leaves,” he said. “You just don’t know anything until you do a Phase 3 trial.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/health/cornavirus-vaccine-moderna.html

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      So what do we do in the meantime?
      Stay locked down forever?
      Sit quietly and wait to be infected?
      I fully expect the suicide rate to start rising like the COVID death rate before long.

      • Michael Bell says

        An interesting statistic about finances and suicide rates. If a large proportion of people are struggling they tend not to rise. That is, it occurs where everyone is seen to be prosperous except ME.

        Because at this juncture there exists many stories of people struggling their is a sense of a struggling community and that you are not in it alone.

        So, I do not expect to see a jump in the suicide rate.

        • Robert F says

          Do people really feel as if they are struggling together in this crisis? I don’t know about Canadians, Mike, but I’m sure Americans don’t. Americans seem to be more fractured and cut-off from each other than ever.

          • Yesterday I was talking about the status of some things with one of my clients, a local small business owner. He said his sister and her family get made fun of when they wear their masks. They live in a Houston suburb. Talk about removed from reality.

  5. I would add that this is a rare case where the public is watching the sausage being made. it ain’t pretty. The version of science we learned in high school is sanitized. It largely removes the false starts, blind groping about, and trips down the wrong path, just giving us the final destination. Those false starts, blind groping about, and trips down the wrong path are an inevitable part of the process. If we knew how to avoid them, it would hardly count as “research.” Also, the high school version tends to present a hero’s tale, with Galileo or Newton or Einstein in the leading role. It follows that in those rare cases where it shows one of those wrong paths, we get a villain such as Lamarck.

    Whatever pedagogical virtues this approach may have, it is a terrible model of how science works. Among its flaws is that it plays into the notion that science consists of the conclusions, when science actually consists of the process. This process is exactly what the high school version hides.

    I have been working on a side project in my baseball history research on the origins of baseball’s vocabulary–not baseball slang, but the basic language we use when we aren’t trying to be colorful: Strike, ball, hit, shutout, etc. This is a fun project. I become intensely interested in a word for a few hours, tracking down its history, and then write about 500 to 1000 words on it. The thing is, during that first phase I start with an idea of what I am likely to find, which is constantly revised as I go along. I had, for example, what I thought was a pretty good idea of the history of “fielder’s choice” which turned out to largely wrong. No imagine that I had been issuing progress reports along the way, giving both my findings and my thoughts on where this was going.

    Someone following these progress reports, particularly someone predisposed to be unsympathetic to the project, might well conclude that I am a fool or a liar. No, I am a researcher. Again, if you know going in where you will end up, it hardly counts as research. You start with as educated a first approximation as you can manage, and see where things take you. This is what we are seeing with the Covid-19 research. This is completely normal. It’s just that we don’t normally see it played out under a spotlight.

    • anonymous says

      there is no ‘wasted’ knowledge learned in experiments when hypotheses are tested because if the hypothesis is NOT supported,
      then this also adds to what is known, and other scientists can replicate the experiment to see if they get the same result

      A good hypothesis ASKS A QUESTION, then it proceeds to make a GUESS about what the answer might be. Then this GUESS is ‘tested’ to see IF the ‘GUESS’ is supported or NOT supported. Methods and materials are noted and there is a CONCLUSION about whether or not the ‘guess’ was ‘supported’ or ‘not supported’, and what is learned may have implications and applications to add to ‘what is known’;
      and people can go from there

      a rudimentary, simplistic explanation? Yep. But surprisingly a sixth-grader gets this and can do a simple experiment with a tri-board for a science fair. Somewhere after sixth grade, I’m not sure what happens to American science education from the look of our politics, but we could better for our kids than we are doing now.

      • People make the mistake in medical issues that one size fits all. “Worked for me” or “Didn’t work for me” is taken as the end of the discussion about whether or not something should go forward.

        People are individuals. Mentally and biologically. And the mental aspect impacts the placebo effect.

        I was raised by a mother who thought medical conspiracies (world wide collusion of doctors and such) made much more sense than “it just didn’t work for someone.”

    • thatotherjean says

      Some of the most productive words in the English language: “Now, why did it do THAT?”

  6. Burro (Mule) says

    Ever since I saw RobertF’s videos from Gettysburg, I have been trembling. It is so easy not to listen. Especially now that the ‘Rona has exposed a fault line between my Pentecostal wife and I. She wants to go to her Pentecostal church, which has reopened with minimal concessions to the pandemic. It is a smaller church, but still houses appr 100-160 people in an enclosed space. Congregational singing. Congregational “praise – ‘speaking in tongues’ and top-of-your-voice-shouting.

    Yet when I want to take communion at my closely tended Orthodox parish, she scolds me for not seeing that it is just as risky as her Pentecostal church’s worship, and she has a point.

    And ERMERGERD the Evangelical media on this pandemic is just beyond irresponsible, blending from ‘God is punishing the Church for her lukewarmess’ to ‘The lib-ruhls have always wanted to shut down the Church. Show them you stand with Jee-zus (and the Prez-dent).”

    • It’s not just the Evangelicals. The county Health Commissioner in my area had to have a Come to Jesus meeting with one of the local LCMS pastors who was, by Gawd, not going to close his church and restrict his peoples’ religious freedom just because the governor said he had to. This same pastor was also ready to hire an attorney to sue the local nursing homes for not allowing clergy in to conduct services and serve communion.
      Prolife indeed.

      I was the most impressed by the Catholic Bishop here. As soon as COVID reared its ugly head, he shut the diocese down. He didn’t ok limited services, either, until several weeks after the governor said it was allowed. Safety first.

      • Burro (Mule) says

        Don’t get me wrong. I want to go to Church. I want my wife to go to her Church, but I want to know what the risks are and if they are commensurate with the benefits. If I forgo the Eucharist, I don’t see how the experience can be made more antiseptic; 200 maximum in a building intended for 2000, recirculating A/C (1970s vintage), no choir or congregational responses.

        But Pentecostals with no “praise ‘n’ worship”? A prayer, some set pieces, and a sermon would turn them into Lutherans.

        What we don’t need at this juncture is “religious freedom” jazzscat. It adds nothing to the discourse.

      • The LCMS, for all their Lutheran theology, are effectively Evangelical (in the modern White American Evangelical Protestant sense of the word) in cultural matters, which most definitely includes response to the pandemic. The ELCA hierarchy has been very responsible about how to respond. This isn’t to say that you can’t find individual congregations going rogue, but any that do are outliers.

        • I agree, Richard. This pandemic and BLM crisis has really brought that out, along with more White Nationalism than I ever knew was there in the LCMS. It’s disheartening.

          • Which might actually be “God punishing the Church for her lukewarmess” – stripping away the polite veneer we’ve constructed over our prejudices and selfishness, and letting the world see our true colors. Whether we will have the humility to see ourselves as we are remains to be seen.

            • “Whether we will have the humility to see ourselves as we are remains to be seen.”

              So far, I am not seeing that humility. At all. I am not seeing any desire for self-reflection.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Evangelical media on this pandemic is just beyond irresponsible, blending from ‘God is punishing the Church for her lukewarmess’ to ‘The lib-ruhls have always wanted to shut down the Church. Show them you stand with Jee-zus (and the Prez-dent)

      Is there a difference these days?

      To Evangelicals (i.e. CHRISTIANS without a modifier), Donald Trump IS Jesus Christ.

      • Burro (Mule) says

        I dunno.

        The clothes are off the Emperor for everybody who isn’t withdrawing into a QAnon-inspired dream world so far from reality that it makes Equestria seem an actuarial report.

        The problem is getting real information. As far as what I’ve seen the advice is wear masks; wash your hands; avoid crowds; keep surfaces clean, keep your distance from others.

        I’m not likely to read many scientific reports in scientific journals or medical magazines. What I hope for (pray for) is responsible information that makes its way to billboards, TV ads, local news broadcasts, Web pages. That is what will keep people alive.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          The clothes are off the Emperor for everybody who isn’t withdrawing into a QAnon-inspired dream world so far from reality that it makes Equestria seem an actuarial report.
          Well, a lot of Evangelicals have convinced themselves that QAnon Dream World is the Kingdom of God.

          At least Equestria has a god-figure who is Benevolent, Approachable, and even Playful.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          The clothes are off the Emperor for everybody who isn’t withdrawing into a QAnon-inspired dream world so far from reality that it makes Equestria seem an actuarial report.

          Well, a lot of Evangelicals have convinced themselves that QAnon Dream World is the Kingdom of God.

          At least Equestria has a god-figure who is Benevolent, Approachable, and even Playful.

          • Robert F says

            Yeah, I think lots of folks in America live in that world, or one very much like it —- there are numerous iterations.

  7. Mike,

    Excellent article and very useful for those not familiar with technical journals and the research process.

    My background is in Materials Science and Engineering, so I familiar with the layout.

  8. Michael Z says

    When people aren’t able to sort out what’s real science, it’s not just because of ideological bias. It’s because of the Dunning-Kruger effect: people with *extremely* low competence in a given field lack the ability to even accurately judge their own competence and therefore can easily convince themselves that they are experts:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

    That’s how we end up with all these covid-19 urban legends that anyone with even a high school level of biology or chemistry would recognize as ridiculous (e.g. that you can cure the virus by drinking hot tea, or cold drinks, or acidic stuff, or basic stuff, or whatever). Someone who hasn’t ever really thought about how the body regulates its temperature and pH might say, “I heard this scientist say that the virus doesn’t like ___ conditions, so eating ___ ought to kill all the virus in my body.”

  9. Klasie Kraalogies says

    Very good post Mike.

    I would add that it is useful to understand some basic statistics – and this helps in other scenarios too! In the last few weeks there has been a number of such cases – a UCI Emiritus professor (of economics) tweeted out statistical “analysis” of Covid-19 data and compared to things like physician pay, binge drinking etc. Except – even someone who had a cursory acquaintance with statistics could see that his “analysis” was absolutely spurious. Basically he did a linear regression through clustered data – in layman’s terms, he got the best fit straight line through what amounted to be fairly random data. And then doubled down when challenged.

    Here is a link to the (for anyone who likes statistics) offending tweet: https://twitter.com/AmihaiGlazer/status/1279210404602712064

    Note the responses, especially the humorous ones quoting XKCD.

    Point is, being an expert in one thing doesn’t make you an expert in something else. A good physician understands disease, treatment and causes. But the can be wonky on epidemiology if they didn’t study it specifically. For instance.

    Someone who understands statistics, like Nassim Taleb, understands statistics, but can be horribly wrong when he doesn’t understand the context.

    To use expertise correctly you have to understand it’s strengths and limitations.

    But to help non-experts make sense of the world around them, a bit of knowledge about basic statistical ideas, about proof and disproof, and common fallacies go a long way.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      A link to the original XKCD cartoon…

      https://xkcd.com/1725/

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > To use expertise correctly you have to understand it’s strengths and limitations.

      There is also so much to be considered in HOW data is measured and collected. It takes expertise to see through the “what gets counted counts” problem which exists in almost all data sets.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        It is an issue I have to deal with on a regular basis in my job.

        How did you sample? What were your sample sizes? Did you sample across lithological boundaries? Which lab did you send it to? How many duplicate samples did you take? How many standards did you include? How many blanks did you include? How did you model the results? Did you composite samples? Eliminate outliers? Are your models representative of the input? Sampling bias? Modelling bias? Etc Etc etc…

        And that is with geological assessment. Biostatistics is even more complex….

        • Klesie,

          As part of my engineering background I tool coursework in Statistical Quality Control, Acceptance Sampling, ANOVA, Design of Experiment, etc. All those are excellent questions. Plus, effect of false positives and false negatives on the sampling. Though with COVID, a false positive is better than a false negative is you wish to mitigate the spread.

  10. Klasie Kraalogies says

    One fallacy that helps to put whatever one reads about Covid in perspective is the ecological fallacy. The Wikipedia definition –

    “An ecological fallacy is a formal fallacy in the interpretation of statistical data that occurs when inferences about the nature of individuals are deduced from inferences about the group to which those individuals belong”

    – is helpful, but I can heartily recommend this article by an epidemiologist:

    https://medium.com/@gidmk/why-you-might-be-wrong-about-covid-19-the-ecological-fallacy-e8a47a030902

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      “””the average of a group isn’t always representative of the individuals.”””

      So much this.

    • Michael Bell says

      I didn’t care for the linked article much.

      I think he introduced as many problems as he cleared up.

      No mention of Standard Deviations or sample sizes, or of Means versus Medians.

      And I thought his examples were down right dangerous (Masks, lockdowns).

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        He is a major proponent of lock downs and masks. However, he is looking at this from a biostatistical perspective. In biostatistics (just like geostatistics), geographical distribution plays a major role. As well as the distribution of a characteristics within a population group / subgroup. In other words, using means, and medians, and linear correlations can be very misleading. Then there is a time lag between infection and detection, between detection and hospitalization, between hospitalization and recovery or death, and once again, the correlations are not linear. And the situation is multi-factorial – access to medical care, use of medical care, quality of medical care, quality of statistics on medical care, methodology of sampling / reporting ad infinitum.

        Again, note that he doesn’t question the wisdom of mask use or lockdowns. What he points out is that many of the arguments for or against are rather superficial in their utilization of statistics. What he is basically doing is indicating the complexity of biostatistics and epidemiology. What the public is seeing now is how the sausage is made, and it confuses the hell out of them, understandably. The problem is the multitude of politicians and media entities jumping on aspects of the sausage making process and yanking it out of context for purposes of “getting clicks” or scoring ideological points.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        Also his point about masks is about using arguments that fail on the ecological fallacy is not the best way to do things. Same with lockdowns. We should use good arguments to do the right thing, not bad ones (that leaves us open to valid criticism etc).

  11. Is there a link to the Wired article somewhere?

    Also I think I have a comment stuck in moderation. 🙁

  12. When I took experimental psyche in college we had to go through very same process. We were doing stimulus response experiments with rats, teaching them to turn on lights and so forth. The process was very exacting.

    • Rick Ro. says

      –> “When I took experimental psyche in college…”

      Was it bad of me to think this read “When I took experimental psychedelics in college…” when I first read it???

      • Yes that was bad and I take offense. I was studying in college. Psychedelics came post grad.

        • Well, come to think of it I did my fair share pre-college as well but don’t accuse me of doing it in college. I was an evangelical Christian at that point.

  13. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    That assumes one’s goal is ideological purity.

    Purity of Ideology is not only the default goal today, but the ONLY Goal.

  14. I got this from John Fea’s blog:

    In other covid news, Jerry Falwell Jr announced to Breitbart this week that Liberty University will open this fall with no masks or social distancing, and Liberty is prepared to sue Governor Northam if he tries to limit the size of classrooms. “We don’t believe that 18- to 23-year-olds are at risk of any fatality,” said Mr. Falwell.

    Mike, does this answer your question, “If you are not going to “trust” experts, who are you going to trust? Someone with no education on the subject and no real-life experience working with the subject?”

    https://www.breitbart.com/radio/2020/07/15/jerry-falwell-jr-promises-business-as-usual-at-liberty-university-in-fall-no-social-distancing-or-masks/

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > “If you are not going to “trust” experts, who are you going to trust?”

      One potential answer to this question is: Nobody. Which really cedes the floor to thuggery.

    • Robert F says

      Re: Jerry Falwell and Jerry Falwell Jr: In terms of being a menace, the son seems to have outstripped the father.

      • Robert F says

        Like the time that Jesus sued the pants off the Pharisees…

        • Everybody is suing everybody else. Some more headlines:

          “Evangelical Churches Sue California Governor Over Ban On Singing During Services”
          https://www.huffpost.com/entry/california-churches-sue-gavin-newsom_n_5f10b3d8c5b6d14c3364ffed

          “Georgia Governor Sues Atlanta Mayor To Block Citywide Mask Mandate”
          https://www.huffpost.com/entry/georgia-governor-sues-atlanta-mayor_n_5f10eeb3c5b6d14c3365452e

          • Robert F says

            So much for all the pious Christian talk about submitting to authorities.

            • Christianity says turn the other cheek.

              Americanism says fight for your “rights”.

              Guess which one trumps (pun intended) the other.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Latest news on that (morning drive-time headline) was it was “three churches” and that the lawsuits claim they are being singled out for PERSECUTION!!!!! because “You let the Black Lives Matter Protests do it!”

            The three churches were unspecified, but the HuffPost Fake News(TM) identifies them as “Calvary Chapel of Ukiah, Calvary Chapel of Fort Bragg and River of Life Church in Oroville”. Two are Calvary Chapels (which doesn’t surprise me), but the third’s a new one on me. I’ve been through Oroville, and that town is too small to support a Mega and too poor to attract one. Maybe a MAGAChurch instead of a MegaChurch?

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              The HuffPost goes on to say their lawsuit and press releases are loaded with a lot of BIBLE! BIBLE! BIBLE! VERSE! VERSE! VERSE! QUOTE! QUOTE! QUOTE!

              Given two of the PERSECUTED churches with lawyers are Calvary Chapel, this does not surprise me. Calvary Chapelites are known for replacing their brains with MP3 playbacks of Bible verses. QUOTE! QUOTE! QUOTE!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        And right JFJ he announced he is suing the NYT for defamation.

        JUST LIKE SCIENTOLOGY!

    • “We don’t believe that 18- to 23-year-olds are at risk of any fatality,” said Mr. Falwell.

      And the instructors, professors, staff (secretaries, janitors, and all the rest) are also immune?

      • Robert F says

        Jr. himself is likely not immune, but who’s to say he’ll be on campus? Maybe he’ll just hunker down at his Virginia farm home.

        • Bigwigs like that tend to live and work with almost no contact with the little folk, even before coronavirus. I’m sure he’ll be well isolated from risk.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            “I GOT MINE,
            I GOT MINE,
            THE WORLD’S THE WAY IT’S MEANT TO BE,
            I GOT MINE…

            “I GOT MINE,
            I GOT MINE,
            I DON’T WANT A THING TO CHANGE
            NOW THAT I GOT MINE!”
            — Glenn Frey

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        And the instructors, professors, staff (secretaries, janitors, and all the rest) are also immune?

        They’re LOWBORN, and Lowborn are expendable.
        Like rounds through a gun — Use, Discard, Replace.

  15. I heard Chuck Woollery has changed his tune a tad since his son was diagnosed with COVID yesterday or today. Suddenly there is empathy.

  16. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    But if one is willing to drill down and try to approach the truth as closely as possible, the Wired article has some useful advice. Covid-19 is a new disease so studies are coming out of labs and research facilities at a rapid pace

    As a result, most of the news you hear from the research is confused and even contradictory. It’s gotten to the point that people are just NOT BELIEVING ANY OF IT and going with “their common horse sense”, Trump Saith, their Megapastor, Twitter, or Spiritual Warfare Activist.