Conservative writer debunks the absurd fallacies promoted by a coronavirus truther

Conservative writer debunks the absurd fallacies promoted by a coronavirus truther
Data from location accuracy company X-Mode tracking cell phones from spring breakers shows how the coronavirus could have spread from just one beach. (Image: X-Mode/Tectonix/screenshot)
News & Politics

Far-right extremists have promoted one absurd conspiracy theory after another. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, so-called “coronavirus truthers” and “hospital truthers” have continued to insist that the pandemic is one big hoax perpetrated by liberals, progressives, the mainstream media and “the Deep State.” Conservative Never Trump journalist Jonathan V. Last cites Knut Wittkowski as someone who coronavirus truthers have adopted as an authority — and he lays out, in an article published in The Bulwark this week, why Wittkowski’s assertions are problematic.

Wittkowski, former head of the Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design at New York City’s Rockefeller University, is controversial when it comes to coronavirus. While others are promoting across-the-board social distancing as a way to slow down the spread of coronavirus, Wittkowski has argued that it could be “exterminated” if most people were allowed to continue leading normal lives while the more vulnerable people in society were protected.

Last points to a quote from a College Fix article in which Wittkowski asserted, “(What) people are trying to do is flatten the curve. I don’t really know why. But what happens is if you flatten the curve, you also prolong (it)…. And I don’t see a good reason for a respiratory disease to stay in the population longer than necessary.”

Debunking that assertion, Last explains, “The bargain you strike by flattening the curve is that, yes, the virus stays in circulation longer — and yes, this is sub-optimal. But the payoff is that the overall fatality rate is dramatically lowered because we have the resources to treat all serious cases, according to best practices. So, fewer people die.”

Last goes on to address Wittkowski’s claims about protective personal equipment (PPE). Wittkowski, Last notes, has said “that there is no shortage of PPE equipment. His reasoning is that, somewhere in the world, there exists PPE equipment that is not currently being used. Ergo, any local ‘shortage’ is just a misallocation. This is true in the same way that a drought is just a misallocation of water that is currently in the ocean.”

Last also criticizes Wittkowski for his “mis-statements of basic facts.”

“Wittkowski claims that there are ‘no more new cases’ in China and South Korea,” Last explains. “As he was saying this, China was reporting new cases. South Korea has reported new cases every single day.”

Although the coronavirus infection rates have slowed down in South Korea and Mainland China, Last notes, that doesn’t mean that infections have disappeared altogether in those countries.

The College Fix article that quotes Wittkowski, according to Last, “dutifully regurgitates a bunch of Trump-friendly talking points from one Knut Wittkowski. If I could summarize what’s going on here, it’s basically that the College Fix is saying: don’t trust all of those experts with their fancy models. Trust this one expert, who’s shooting from the hip.”

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