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The War on Death - Thinking Critically During Mass Panic | Starting Strength Radio #50

Mark Rippetoe | April 03, 2020

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Mark Wulfe:
From The Aasgaard Company studios in beautiful Wichita Falls, Texas... From the finest mind in the modern fitness industry... The one true voice of the strength and conditioning profession... The most important podcast on the internet... Ladies and Gentlemen! Starting Strength Radio.

Mark Rippetoe:
Welcome back to Starting Strength Radio. We are here on Friday just like we are every Friday. This Friday with a little different... As you may have noticed, interesting things are happening in the world and we thought we would not shirk from our duty to at least address them for you. I don't know if we'll make any more sense than anybody else. That'll be for you to decide, but we're going to talk about this covid-19 situation today.

Mark Rippetoe:
And we're not going to talk a lot about the numbers. And we're going to explain why that is, by the way, we're here with our friends - Andrew Mueller who is an oral surgeon here in town. He's a man of above average intelligence. And we're here with Dr. Bradford, a woman of above average intelligence, and you'll have to make your own decisions about me.

Mark Rippetoe:
But both of these people are well educated. stef's degree is in pharmacology. She has a PhD in pharmacology from Duke. I don't know if we've mentioned that before, but it's worth noting that she has had both research and clinical experience.

Mark Rippetoe:
Andrew is both an oral surgeon and a doctor and....

Andrew Mueller:
A business owner.

Mark Rippetoe:
And a business owner of multiple businesses around the state and is in a position to address the effects of of this situation, not just the medical effects, the physical effects, but the financial effects, which have only begun to be profound.

Mark Rippetoe:
So let's talk about a little bit of this data and we're going to talk to you about what the data is and what it is not. All right. Right now, as of today, the Corona virus cases reported. This is tested positive are nine hundred twelve thousand nine ninety eight, the deaths are forty five thousand five hundred and fifty one. That's about a 5 percent death rate, which is an enormous number. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
By country, Italy is reporting by far the highest death rate. They are reporting thirteen thousand hundred fifty five deaths on a total case rate case load of one hundred and ten thousand. So that's a little over 10 percent death rate in Italy. Which is very interesting.

Mark Rippetoe:
The USA is reporting a total of two hundred and five thousand four hundred and thirty eight cases. Well, the total death rate of a total death count of four thousand five hundred twenty eight.

Mark Rippetoe:
And all the other countries of the world here. China is reporting a total of 81000 total cases in a country where this pandemic apparently started they all are - this is fascinating - China is only reporting thirty six new cases today. The population of 1.5 billion people. They really got this thing whipped, don't they.

stef bradford:
Well, it's not the testing, it's who counts the tests.

Mark Rippetoe:
New.... Like who counts the votes? Same kind of thing.

Mark Rippetoe:
New deaths, seven out of China.

stef bradford:
Impressive.

Mark Rippetoe:
Oh, it is impressive isn't it? That is an impressive piece of work.

Mark Rippetoe:
And you know, there are little hotspots around the world. Luxembourg is interesting. Tiny little country with twenty three hundred cases of covid-19. They probably share some important characteristics in common with Italy.

Mark Rippetoe:
I've got three graphs here that were lovingly posted on my board today. Here are the daily case counts in New York City. All right and I'm not gonna give you the numbers because I just want you to look at the graph [holds up graph 1]. Here are the daily hospitalization counts [holds up graph 2]. Note the curve in New York City. And here the death counts [holds up graph 3]. Note the curve. Now death counts, the last bar, is probably not accurate, but note the trend.

Mark Rippetoe:
I don't see anything exponential going on, do you guys?

stef bradford:
Well, it's not what you expect.

Mark Rippetoe:
No, exponential is not what you would expect.

stef bradford:
No, you not. Not for any length of time. That's not how epidemics proceed.

Mark Rippetoe:
No, it's not sustainable. I've pointed out the fact that if these models that don't you know, these scary models just show hockey stick data that by April I mean, by October the 1st, the entire mass of the observable universe would consist of corona virus particles. If in fact it didn't tail off.

stef bradford:
It's pretty bad.

Mark Rippetoe:
That would be bad. That would be bad. You, me, all the dogs and cats, all the rocks and sticks and everything, would have been converted to coronavirus particles.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. OK. Here's some other interesting data. This is from world-o- meter, world-ometer. Worldometer. For those of you people in Iowa Park, world o meter.

Mark Rippetoe:
All right, communicable disease deaths this year. To date this year. Three million two hundred and fifty four thousand seasonal flu deaths this year. One hundred and twenty one thousand eight hundred and eighty two deaths of children under five this year. 1 million, 905 thousand. These are children that don't die of Corona Virus 19. Deaths of mothers giving birth, in childbirth, deaths seventy seven thousand four hundred and eighty five. HIV/AIDS infected people - this is not deaths - this is infections: 41 million six hundred eighty thousand. Deaths caused by AIDS, this year, four hundred twenty one thousand four hundred twenty four. It's probably predominantly in Africa, right?

Mark Rippetoe:
This is interesting, deaths caused by cancer this year. Two million. Fifty eight thousand. And as we know from our conversation with our friend John Horgan, the vast majority of cancer deaths are caused by smoking. Something you do voluntarily.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, this is a fascinating thing here. Deaths caused by malaria this year, two hundred and forty five thousand eight hundred ninety six. Deaths by malaria. Malaria.

Mark Rippetoe:
Deaths by smoking are one million two hundred fifty three thousand. And some change. Alcohol abuse: Six hundred twenty six thousand nine hundred ninety six. There have been two hundred and sixty eight thousand suicides this year. Okay, two hundred sixty eight thousand two.

Andrew Mueller:
So even these these are not coronavirus numbers that you've just been going through. Even these numbers have a lot lot of problems in them, right? I mean...'

Mark Rippetoe:
Absolutely they do. And let's let's talk about...

Andrew Mueller:
How you define that somebody died from cigarette smoking vs. alcohol vs. cancer.

Mark Rippetoe:
When they undoubtedly did all three. All three.

Andrew Mueller:
There's smoking and drinking themselves to death as they have Stage 4 cancer.H

Mark Rippetoe:
Here's the.. Let's talk about specifically.

Andrew Mueller:
Be careful about numbers.

Mark Rippetoe:
The numbers with respect to Corona virus. To illustrate the problem with every bit of this data. Every bit of this data is shit. It's shit data. All right.

Mark Rippetoe:
First off the Italian data. In fact, I posted this on our thread about this on the board, the Italian data, it was revealed about 10 days ago by one of the doctors keeping track of the data in Italy that eighty eight percent of those people who had previously been attributed to death by Corona virus. Eighty eight percent of them died with the Corona virus. In other words, tested positive, but of other causes.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, think about that. This is profoundly interesting. Because how do you know that all of the rest of the data, the forty five thousand people that I quoted, forty five thousand five hundred and fifty one were not similarly confused with causes of death other than Corona about this.

stef bradford:
This is the thing. It's just like any any any sort of study you're looking at, any kind of numbers, you have to look at the context. You have to look how the data's actually gathered. And when you're comparing one thing to another, just any any kind of deal, it's actually very difficult. So if you look you get these studies that try to combine a bunch of studies together, you know, a big meta analysis. And whether that's actually done well or poorly depends on how they're putting these things together where there really weren't -- that the numbers were collected differently. The criteria, those studies are different, you know, and how do you try to get a bigger and bigger sample size? Right. And that's always a problem.

stef bradford:
It's a problem when you extrapolate from, you know, here's a study. It might have been well done, but you can't extrapolate to all these other populations. I mean, you can extrapolate it. But whether that is justified and whether the the predictions from that extrapolation are valid, you're going to have to find out. And depending on someone's perspective, they they're trying to sell you that it is.

Andrew Mueller:
And that's. And I think that's the point we're trying to make, is we need to be, if we're having discussions tt gets really dangerous once we start discussing numbers at all. The numbers, they're really, really questionable. There's a lot of problems with any study, whether we're talking about things not related to coronavirus or we are. And yet we're making major policy decisions based on these. We need to be aware of the limitations in the numbers.

Mark Rippetoe:
We've been making major policy decisions based on a projection by these people at the CDC that U.S. deaths could reach 2.2 million.

Andrew Mueller:
Right.

stef bradford:
There's a whole lot of deceptions and extrapolations.

Andrew Mueller:
Yeah, but I would like to make the point that I hope we can all think critically about this and step back and just ask... We've all gotten really, really focused on the numbers in the country. And the point we just want or I want to make is that the numbers there's problem with the numbers. And we need to be aware of the fact, the fact that there's problems with the numbers and then be careful.

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, let's talk about the Italian numbers, just as it is an example. OK. Italy's got apparently a far higher death rate, far higher case fatality rate than every other country in the world. Now, there are several reasons why this might be. And there are several reasons why that data should be completely ignored.

Mark Rippetoe:
What is the case fatality rate? This applies to to all countries. It applies to everyone's situation. The case fatality rate...

Andrew Mueller:
Right. We don't know.

Mark Rippetoe:
... Is is is a number that we don't know.

stef bradford:
So how is it calculated?

Mark Rippetoe:
It is calculated from people who have been tested. And if you are tested and you test positive, then you are included as a case. All right now they are specifically reserving tests for people who are symptomatic.

Mark Rippetoe:
This is this is interesting because that in itself is going to skew the data quite thoroughly. The only nation I'm aware of that has done a good job of of conducting random tests throughout the population, in other words, tested a random sample of people ,not not just symptomatic people or people who think they've been exposed to it, is Iceland.

Mark Rippetoe:
And the Icelandic data is is pretty good. They've tested, best I can tell, about 8 percent of the population. And what it shows is a very, very low case fatality rate. Because in Iceland they have got a handle on how many actual cases they've got. Because the more people you test that are asymptomatic, the lower the case fatality rate is just because of the algebra.

[everyone talking at the same time]:
Right. I got this I got this right, Rick. Right.

Mark Rippetoe:
So the other data point is called the infection fatality rate, the IFR.

Andrew Mueller:
Which we'll never know.

Mark Rippetoe:
Which we will not know. Why will we not ever know that?

Andrew Mueller:
We'll never be able to test everybody and then they may already be cured. I mean, we could theoretically test for antibodies and know how many people are exposed, but they're just there's just a lot of data we're never gonna know.

Mark Rippetoe:
What do the tests show now?

Andrew Mueller:
They're mainly PCR.

stef bradford:
Mainly doing RT-PCR tests.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right. And at PCR tests are not particularly reliable for what reason?

stef bradford:
Because they're. Well what you're doing there is your multiplying the genetic material. Right. You have two strands of DNA. Right. You unzip them two to double them. You know, if you're gonna. If you're gonna. Duplicate them. So the idea with the with the with this, what you're doing is you're you're unzipping and then you make a new strand here, new stand there. So take this double strand. So two, you multiply it in for the four, you multiply eight. Ok. So what you're doing is you're making a reaction where you're basically doing what? An exponential increase intentionally so you can have a very, very small amount of material and make a giant amount of it by using this reaction.

stef bradford:
OK, so it's useful for manufacturing stuff, for testing things, all sorts of things like this. But inherently it's very, since it's so very sensitive, you could have it the tiniest little amount there. And theoretically, if you do enough of those things, it's going to show up as positive. You set a cutoff for what you count as you know there. But what actually happens in practice, any kind of contamination? You know, big one is, you know, you get your dandruff and your test sample.

stef bradford:
Now you just multiply that instead of what you're trying to do. Right. So it's very easy to get something in. So some of the numbers I've seen for some these tests... And there have been there's been, you know, various people making tests.

stef bradford:
So it's very it's hard to get a positive. There's been multiple tests on people. You get to get a negative. They test begin to get positive. This is going back to China's testing. They were testing people and then they'd have to test them again. And they'd use multiple things [sample sources]. And this guy would be negative then be positive then negative because the test itself relies on just getting a tiny little sample. So we're trying to pick up a little fragment of the virus and we're multiplying.

Mark Rippetoe:
And if the sample's wrong, if the samples contaminated or contaminated.

stef bradford:
Right. Or if you don't pick up anything in that particular swab. Right. Or the cutoff, let's say the cutoff is...

Mark Rippetoe:
Just not enough virus laying around to be in that swab.

stef bradford:
Right. It's this it's a cut off was like 20 cycles or 20, you know, cycles and doubling it. Right. It's a kind of 20. And you don't get enough. You're below threshold. So it's a threshold kind of test. It's an absolute kind of test.

Andrew Mueller:
So we know that there's problems with the testing. There's problems with the numbers. There's problems with there's a lots of there's also problems with any data entered in this discussion. I don't think any of us are sitting here trying to say this coronavirus is not a problem. I mean, this is a huge problem affecting the world right now. We're also not trying to make light of it.

Andrew Mueller:
I think our goal is to is to make sure that we're asking thoughtful questions about it. bEcause right now, the narrative, as it seems, there's a lot of panic, there's a lot of fear, there's a lot of focus on the numbers and there's a lot of really worst, what seems to be possibly worst case scenario. And a lot of people's minds that are being presented to them.

stef bradford:
And a lot of this you see this with anything when you when you all of a sudden start paying attention to an issue, now you're focused on it, becomes more of a problem to you. You know, we could be looking at influenza at the same time here. You know, this is a test it's done all the time. Most people don't get tested for influenza either. Most people, if you get a little bit of the flu, you just go, I guess, have a flu. You don't get it diagnosed.

stef bradford:
So the numbers for, say, influenza, they're based on samples and certain people are tested. But it's not like everyone gets tested for influenza either. That's why if you go to the... So, for example, go to the CDC numbers. They have an estimate. It's this huge range for something they can test easily, but it's based on sampling. We may do that at some point for something like the coronavirus, too. But those numbers are these big giant ranges.

stef bradford:
And what do they tell you? Oh, this looks like a bad flu season. Oh, our vaccine, that doesn't really work very well, is really not going to work very well this year, you know?

Mark Rippetoe:
In other words, the the data for influenza and Corona virus are not analogous.

stef bradford:
Because they're trying to do extrapolations from sampling.

Mark Rippetoe:
They're doing two different things. Right. Right. They're testing for the flu when they're making flu projections or telling us the number of cases of the flu. And we're telling us the number of cases of covid 19, they're telling us two completely different things.

stef bradford:
Right. They estimate the... The you have some testing and then they project the estimated infection.

Mark Rippetoe:
And for example, H1N1 back in 2009, there were apparently in retrospect, we've decided there were 61 million cases of that flu. And of those 61 million cases, 18000 people died. This is a huge number. But it's not a particularly huge number. When you think about what the flu does every winter, it kills people. The flu kills people. People die of the flu every single year. And I'm sorry about that, but that's just part of being here on the planet with viruses. And. It kills at a certain demographic.

Mark Rippetoe:
It doesn't kill children, usually. It kills old people. People like me.

stef bradford:
It's the same profile they see with corona virus. Not very many people. And as you get older, it goes up. And if you get plus sixty five starts going way, way up.

Mark Rippetoe:
Way up. And it it goes way up if you smoke. Way, way, way up if you smoke.

Andrew Mueller:
And that seems to be similar data with the corona virus. Yeah. Especially out of China. The smoking was a huge risk factor.

Mark Rippetoe:
One of the things that keeps getting kicked around is the idea that we're going to overwhelm the health care system. All right. It's not a health care system. It's an industry. All right. And overwhelming it will happen in some locations and will not happen in other locations.

Mark Rippetoe:
For example, in Wichita County, the health care system will not be overwhelmed. We have an empty hospital out on Kell right now with nobody in it because all elective procedures have been put on hold due to an anticipation in the overwhelming numbers of coronavirus patients that are anticipated within the system. Now, what is the cost of that? What's the cost there?

Andrew Mueller:
This is another this is another brand new experiment that we have no idea what the cost will be. Right. We have to just shut down a huge portion of health care and then see what happens.

Mark Rippetoe:
What are they doing to your office right now?

Andrew Mueller:
Only only emergency cases. So only patients in severe pain, and that's who we are proceeding. There's been a lot of... That's a very difficult question to answer. We've gotten varying explanations from different governing boards.

Andrew Mueller:
At one point, it was only life threatening was the way it was described. But then, you know, you have patients in severe pain or or even moderate pain. I mean, where do where do you draw the line? And that I think I think all doctors right now are struggling with that. It was softened a little bit by the state of Texas, the medical board yesterday. Their language had been really aggressive maybe a week ago. It's another unknown. It's just what will be the results off this?

stef bradford:
Yeah. So you think about what does "elective" mean? You know

Mark Rippetoe:
I need to get this cancer cut off my face.

[everyone talking at the same time]:
Right. Yeah. Elective. What about testing?

Andrew Mueller:
No, they're proceeding with that. So for you.

stef bradford:
You know, new person, you know, coming in, there's something wrong with them. They don't know what it is. Maybe it is cancer. Right.

Andrew Mueller:
Right. So if there's a concern for that, those are still happening. So if if a biopsy if there there's the thought of the potential for cancer that's still happening or an infection. So there is still stuff going on. But...

stef bradford:
Drastically reduced.

Andrew Mueller:
Its drastically reduced. I mean, we're we're at...

Mark Rippetoe:
All the derm offices closed. I'm sure. Right.

Andrew Mueller:
I believe. I don't know for sure. I don't. I don't know. I don't know.

Mark Rippetoe:
I would imagine the vast majority of dermatology is going to be called elective. Right. Well, circumstantial might always generalize how many melanomas will go undiagnosed during this period of time as a result of that?

Andrew Mueller:
Sure.

Mark Rippetoe:
You know, there's that and multiply that over the whole whole health care industry because you know, things that look to a bureaucrat like elective may not be elected to the patient.

stef bradford:
Yeah, yeah. So if you think of something like I mean, I don't know if you spoken to Owen, but like what, what about joint replacements? Is that elective?

[everyone talking at the same time]:
Right. Right. Right. If you can't walk, you can't sleep? Right. Right. Absolutely not elective.

stef bradford:
When there's an actual fracture that that could lead to some kind of infection versus you're just in a lot of pain. Well, just stay in pain a little bit longer, hear's more drugs and you'll be fine. You'll be fine.

Mark Rippetoe:
Except we can't give you a hydrocodone now. Because of the opioid crisis, the Nation's opioid crisis. All right.

Andrew Mueller:
And this is I mean, this whole thing's a great example of just that, where the hysterias can quickly go too far. Just a week ago, I got a letter from the Texas Medical Board threatening jail time for doing non-life threatening procedures. And then I got...

Mark Rippetoe:
Jail time for you?

Yeah. And then I got. Yeah. Yeah. Which was I mean, shocking. I got a letter yesterday from them clarifying that they actually don't have the ability, they don't have the authority to throw doctors in jail.

stef bradford:
All right. So at the same time that several jurisdictions across the country are letting people out, you know, some they're nonviolent. We're letting them out, other ones. Yeah, they might have killed somebody, but they're all going to die. They let those people out. Right. Because. Well, you know what if we get the stuff in the institution where we have to take care of them and it's our fault if they get sick.

Mark Rippetoe:
But doctors, scofflaws, by god!

stef bradford:
You're going to jail. We'll arrest you. All right. You are in jail. Yeah.

Mark Rippetoe:
You are defying our authority. Right.

stef bradford:
And that's always worse.

Andrew Mueller:
So if you hear that and you don't think that we're potentially overreacting in some ways, then I don't I don't think you're paying attention to what's going on.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yeah I don't think you're...I don't think you've adequately appreciated the situation.

Andrew Mueller:
And so what are we. I mean, what are we trying to get at here? Because we've made a huge ... we've made a really big reaction in this country. And and this is also completely uncharted.

Andrew Mueller:
You know, I was kind of thinking this morning - this is that this the first time we even had the ability to do something like this. I'm not sure that we could have sheltered in place.

stef bradford:
House arrest.

Andrew Mueller:
50 years ago

stef bradford:
House arrest is the proper term.

Andrew Mueller:
Before the Internet and the ability I mean, Amazon Prime and and all these technologies. I don't I don't know that this would even have been possible. Now we have this massive social experiment going on and it feels like it feels like we're doing that without a lot of conversation about the potential downsides of of what could mean that, you know The phrase "is the cure worse than the disease" has been said.

Andrew Mueller:
And but are we talking about that enough? Are we asking those questions?

Mark Rippetoe:
I don't think that we are.

Andrew Mueller:
I've heard that mentioned once or twice, but not continued to be talked about.

Mark Rippetoe:
A whole bunch of people, several posters on the board on the thread And certainly the entire Media is focused only on the disease. They're focused on the number of potential deaths that this disease will cause. They keep going over and over the data and pulling the death rates out and death projections and all this other stuff and they are doing this in order to justify the reaction to this pandemic that governments, local, state, federal governments have taken to the disease.

Mark Rippetoe:
All they want to talk about is the disease. People are going to die every year anyway. It's always like this. People die of lots and lots of things, a lot more people died of malaria in the same period of time, then have died of coronavirus. No, that's not to downplay the potential threat from corona virus. It is to illustrate the overreaction to that potential threat.

Andrew Mueller:
Potential overreaction. Right?

Mark Rippetoe:
I don't think the overreaction is potential. I think this is an overreaction. You may not agree with that, Andrew, but...

Andrew Mueller:
I don't know.

Mark Rippetoe:
I am convinced this is an overreaction.

stef bradford:
I suspect it may be.

stef bradford:
I think some of the things you see actually give you that idea. Right. So when you stop focusing on on people that are actually dead and start talking about like, well, we we could overwhelm the system and then then you wouldn't have enough ventilators. It's like, okay so I noticed there was a shift there from people actually dead, to "Well, we could overwhelm the health care system."What's the next step?

Andrew Mueller:
Why aren't we asking about what we could we be doing to the economy? W

stef bradford:
What's the next step right now? So, yeah, we're looking at one little one little part of what's going on, right? So you're just looking at one thing. It's like, well, our lives aren't made up only, you know. You know, living or dying from a virus.

Mark Rippetoe:
Right now, we're looking at people who have died of covicd 19 - whatever that means - in New York City.

Andrew Mueller:
Right, we're very, very focused on that.

Mark Rippetoe:
We're looking at the New York City death rates and in hospitals in a giant city where people are stacked on top of each other like sardines.

Andrew Mueller:
And we're very focused on the quantity of lives saved, but there's not a lot of conversation going on about the quality of life for all of us.

Mark Rippetoe:
That's going to remain at the end of the thing.

Andrew Mueller:
That's going to remain when potentially I mean... Well, does anybody know what shutting down the economy for how long is going to do? Nobody does.

Mark Rippetoe:
And they don't, because it's never been done before. This is as Andrew mentioned, it might not have been possible prior to today's information technology situation.

Andrew Mueller:
Right. I mean, people can work at home and. Yeah. Right. I mean, it probably wasn't possible.

Mark Rippetoe:
And so so we don't know what else what the economic damage here is going to be. It's going to be profound. I have seen estimates. And, you know. All right. I'll give you that. It's an estimate. It's a model. It's probably probably bullshit. But I've I've seen estimates of second quarter GDP - that's April, May and June - GDP drops 25 percent. That has never occurred.

Mark Rippetoe:
That didn't... a quarterly drop of 25 percent, did not occur ever once in the history of this country. It didn't occur at any point, even comparable to that during the Great Depression in the 1920s and 30s. At no point did did the economy suffer that big a blow in that short period of time.

Mark Rippetoe:
But when you tell everybody to stay in the house, you tell three hundred and thirty million Americans to stay home unless you're a bureaucrat and then you stay home and still get paid. I wonder how many bureaucrats have lost their jobs during this little experiment? I'll shut up about that now because it just pisses me off just to talk about.

Andrew Mueller:
Fair enough. Rip if if one hundred...If we knew that hundred and fifty million Americans were going to die, there's no question that we would all be, I mean we'd be going through draconian measures to do anything we could to stop it.

Mark Rippetoe:
Absolutely.

Andrew Mueller:
But if we knew that only one American was going to die, I think we all. I don't think anyone would want to shut down the economy over that. And so the point about the data in the beginning is we're making these huge decisions and we don't know. We really don't know what we're dealing with.

Andrew Mueller:
And, you know, there are other things in... Are there other things in life where we've thought about? Is there a balance between human lives and the economy? Maybe it's a crass example, but speed limits is one that comes to mind. And, you know, we've made a decision in this country that we're going to have efficient travel and raise speed limits. And we know for a fact that that causes more deaths. If we all if we all drove 20 miles an hour, there would be almost no car accident fatalities. Yeah. Right. Very, very little human lives lost from car fatalities by lowering that. But we've made the decision to raise that and and as a result, we have more fatalities.

Andrew Mueller:
In the same sense we have to balance the economic costs of that.

Mark Rippetoe:
Think about that for just a second. There's been lots and lots of irresponsible politicians all over the political spectrum saying that if it saves one life, it was worth it right now.

Mark Rippetoe:
But, kiddos. Come on. If it saves one life, it was worth it. Is that is that is fantasyland. That is Saturday morning thing cartoon level bullshit.

stef bradford:
Yeah, well, this is the deal. So your example of speed limits is not bad because everyone understands that. What you also understand is if it takes you hours to get somewhere, what have you lost? I mean you've already lost. You've lost part of your life.

stef bradford:
So it's a false thing to say. Saving lives versus the economy. You want to trade lives for money. It's like my life. You're using my life. My life is getting used up. When you limit me, if you took me right now and put me in prison, you know, or just think of these people that are... they get they're in prison for 20 years and it turns out that the prosecutor hid the evidence and they let the guy out and it's like, can you make up for that?

Andrew Mueller:
No, no. And I think there's a real reason that it's helpful as we've been thrust upon a brand new problem. We have...we've never thought about it. Most of us haven't really spent time thinking about a global pandemic before and we're all thrust upon the corona virus all new. The speed limit thing's helpful. That's something we've wrestled with for years. And these are some of the decisions years of looking at it, seeing the results, trying different policies... Even different states have different policies. And so there's been a lot of experimentation that's gone on there. And we've come to certain conclusions.

stef bradford:
And we traded death in other ways there. So an example, another thing that's increased the traffic fatalities has been cars getting lighter and lighter and lighter to meet fuel efficiency standards. The decision was make fuel efficiency is more important than your life because you know how cars these days, you know, you can smash them up.

stef bradford:
When I was a kid, you jump on top of the station wagon. It was it was steel. It was steel.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yeah, three eighths-inch sheet metal.

stef bradford:
Right. And now it's just like tin foil. You can you can pop your car hood in and out because there's hardly anything there.

Andrew Mueller:
Have to be a little care for that example, because I think the crumple zones in the newer I think I'd rather be in a new car car than old.

stef bradford:
You can look this up. You can look up the CAFE-related fatalities is those things have led to more traffic deaths. This has been - again it's modeling - so, you know call it what you want, but there's been more traffic deaths. It hasn't just been the limit, it's because you've made cars more fragile.

Mark Rippetoe:
What about red light cameras? Now, there was an interesting thing. Texas just made those illegal. Governor Abbott just made those illegal. But how many car wrecks were caused by red light cameras across the United States?

Andrew Mueller:
Because people were stopping?

Mark Rippetoe:
Because people are slamming on the brakes. Right. Trying to not get a ticket and they get rear ended causing a chain reaction behind them. And, you know, there's a there's a number attached to that. Because they wanted revenue. And they wanted the ticket revenue.

Andrew Mueller:
All of this illustrates that public policy, whether it be economic or health, has dramatic impacts on our lives. And you know, right now I have the feeling that we have a very one sided narrative that's all about the virus and how dangerous it is, and it very well may be. There's just so much that we don't know. And we need to make sure that we're discussing the potential economic impact of this. And and and it doesn't feel like we are right now. Not at this moment in time.

stef bradford:
I think it is for a couple reasons. One is one is to people, you can actually very effectively make a threat. Something you can't even see, can't you? I could be making you sick right now, Andrew. You can't see it.

stef bradford:
So people start getting very spooked and hyperaware and not letting our friends in their house and all these kinds of things because they start to get like calling paranoid and creeped out. They've watched too many...

Andrew Mueller:
We're programmed that way. Right? Like we're as human beings, the the the human that didn't run away when he thought there was a lion in the woods. He didn't reproduce. They're all they're all dead. The ones that had children are all the ones that ran away. We are the descendants of fearful humans. So we are we have to remember, our brains are programmed to be fearful. And we need to be alert. We need to be nervous about that through.

stef bradford:
But what the what the governments have done at different levels to different extents is say, "Screw your response. We're going to order you what you should do instead of letting the people that want to...

Mark Rippetoe:
We're not going to let you decide.

stef bradford:
We're not going to let you live your life, right.

Mark Rippetoe:
We are going to decide for you.

stef bradford:
We are going to take your life.

Mark Rippetoe:
In other words, we're going to make the calculation that you would normally have made for yourself. We're gonna make that calculation for you. And if you don't do what we tell you to do, we're going to fine your thousand dollars and we might even put you in jail, which is really a safe place to be during a pandemic isn't?

Andrew Mueller:
You know my point is, is that in times of fear, we need to be. We need to realize that we all make mental mistakes as a government, whatever.

stef bradford:
And when you make emotional mistakes.

Andrew Mueller:
Exactly, we're making emotional reactions to things because we're fearful and we need to step back and be sober-minded and think.

stef bradford:
And some people are much more susceptible that. And some people should be more afraid. If you're a New York City, you live in a thing that puts you in contact with lots and lots of people constantly. You're touching surfaces constantly, you're breathing air constantly. That has about exactly nothing to do with where I live.

Andrew Mueller:
Yeah. How many people do you come in contact with on a daily basis.

stef bradford:
If I'm lucky? None.

Andrew Mueller:
Right. Right.

Mark Rippetoe:
Or maybe just me.

stef bradford:
It's ridiculous when we talk about physical distancing and I'm like, I live four miles away from anybody else. Yeah.

Mark Rippetoe:
The rules that apply in in the hippest city in the world, Brooklyn don't apply in Wichita County. Out in the western part of Wichita County where we live. The emotional toll here is going to be read, rather dramatically in the suicide rate, we mentioned suicide rate earlier, suicide deaths in the world are, you know, 300000 every year. Whatever's in that pile something like that.

Andrew Mueller:
Yeah, yeah, it'll be interesting to see, unfortunately, the change.

Mark Rippetoe:
It'll it'll be real interesting to see what happens as people lose their businesses as as people who are already suffering from depression are deprive from social contact. As people with severe forms of mental illness don't get therapy, don't get treatment.

Mark Rippetoe:
This is a cost that our "betters" in the government have imposed on us and the with no thought whatsoever for the consequences of their actions.

Andrew Mueller:
Right. Right. And the other physical cost. I mean, that hits really close to home as nobody's in the gym. I mean is the best way to be prepared for a pandemic to sit on the couch?

Mark Rippetoe:
To detrain?

stef bradford:
So what what are the positive things you could do? I mean, like normal people normally avoid people are sick. If if somebody has a cold, I don't want to be around them. And I certainly you're more careful about, you know, any of these things - touching your face, washing your hands if you're around someone who's actually sick - right?

Mark Rippetoe:
Yeah. And I've never you know, somebody tells me they've got the flu when they come to the gym. The policy for the past 35 years at my gym is get the fuck out of here. Get out and get out of here. You look like shit, I don't want the flu. I don't want the rest of these people to get the flu. Get out of here right now. It's always been the policy.

stef bradford:
People avoid things. And all the all the warnings to wash your hands more and all, don't stick your finger up your nose. What else? I mean, it's like. Yeah. And that's good for not getting the flu, too.

Andrew Mueller:
And we're all aware that. Yeah, we're all certainly aware that that the slight difference, the possible difference, of the corona viruses, people transmitting it before they become symptomatic. And that may what's different with it.

stef bradford:
Maybe. It's unclear.

Andrew Mueller:
This is for influenzaa. And we're all aware of those issues, but it doesn't doesn't take away from the fact of everything else first.

stef bradford:
Yeah. So just all the time. Right. So people that are conscientious, you avoid litter sick unless it's some you're actually actually taken care of and then you're kind of careful and then you're not surprised if you get it from, you know, your mom when she has a flu and you get the flu after you take care of her, it's like, well, you know, that happens. But it's family. And that's how that's how humans treat each other.

stef bradford:
But other than that, what what decreases you getting sick just in general? I mean, what does being healthy mean? What does it mean for your immune system and not getting an illness, whether it's a flu, a cold, this thing or anything else?

Mark Rippetoe:
As we always say, stronger people are harder to kill.

Andrew Mueller:
Yeah, absolutely.

Mark Rippetoe:
But but we're not allowed to practice.

stef bradford:
Or suffering. Or if you do get sick suffering from it.

stef bradford:
So when you've done, you know, when you've been physically active and you've trained and you don't have high blood pressure. Good. Because if you get this disease, from what they're telling us so far, one of the risk factors have you getting a serious reaction to it is high blood pressure. And you go, how does that work? Well, we don't really know, but it's a risk factor here. And if you don't have it because you've actually taken care yourself, you're in a better position. If you're eating well or not eating, you know, Frito-lays for dinner.

Andrew Mueller:
Right. So, again, yeah. I mean, your whole point is great. It's not just the economic consequences, et cetera. It's not just saving dollars. By sitting home at home, we are making ourselves more susceptible to the disease. I mean, you can't...

stef bradford:
well, and you're breathing everyone's same air, right?

Andrew Mueller:
I mean, we're sitting there. Weren't getting weaker. Yeah, we're we're getting depressed. I mean, it's it's really hard to not be. Where you are. You a little depressed right now? I think everybody...

stef bradford:
I'm not. I'm not. And the thing is, I mean, I have a lot of people that I worry about because of their situations. But I don't go on and on about the fact that now I go outside, I'm still surrounded by like real natural world and I have no restrictions.

Andrew Mueller:
Yeah, right. I think you're in a unique situation, which is awesome. And you've purposely chosen to live your life that way. But there's there's millions of people who I think are getting depressed, they're sitting at home.

stef bradford:
Obviously. If I'm in Brooklyn, I start to get depressed just because of the horrible environment. But some people like that. They did like it until they got stuck in their apartment for two weeks. And they're looking at how much longer am I stuck in? I mean, just imagine being up in a building up in the air and you're like looking down and you're stuck there.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yeah. TV gets old.

stef bradford:
And when you when you go outside everyone has is touching.

Mark Rippetoe:
And you know what else gets old?

Mark Rippetoe:
Being broke. Yeah. Gets real, real old. Being broke gets real real old

stef bradford:
Not being able to eat.

Mark Rippetoe:
The economic effects of this thing have got to be considered.

Andrew Mueller:
They have to be weighed.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yeah. A few people are talking about it, but. What they have decided they're going to do is print two trillion dollars out of thin air and just pass it out.

stef bradford:
Worldwide you see that, you see this stimulus idea. And that's... Maybe you could, but maybe you can prop up the completely ridiculous debt based economy. That's I mean, the world was in a terrible situation that was bound to collapse sometime. A lot of people questioned the timing of this like, oh, now we're going to pretend it was a virus when your banking system was completely pozzed already.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yes, on thin ice.

stef bradford:
But here's here's here's the thing. What I look at, too, it's like if they push this far enough, what it's gonna mean is there isn't food. And you know, who's really going to die?

stef bradford:
All the poorest countries, the same people that don't have the DDT, and that's what they still have malaria in Africa, unlike right here in the southern southeast U.S., we don't have malaria.

Andrew Mueller:
Sure. Yeah. It would be foolish to...

stef bradford:
Those people are going to starve. Most the world does not have...most of the world has to import food.

Andrew Mueller:
Right. Because there's a legitimate risk of a true global great depression like we've never seen our lifetime.

[everyone talking at the same time]:
And if you buy a harvesting like you get a silver, like has never occurred. Right.

Mark Rippetoe:
Because of the inter-dependence that we've all entered into it globally. That's that's never occurred before. Right. You know, there were when when North America was isolated by two oceans, whatever happened here, happened here. But things aren't that way anymore.

Mark Rippetoe:
And you know, we're in a we're in a situation that this is brand new territory. We don't have the slightest idea. Right. And there's now this is going to play out, but it isn't gonna be very good.

stef bradford:
And there's other factors. There's other factors. You don't know what's going to happen. So. So right now, like in the in the meat production, there was this big chunk, you know, spike in demand. And, you know, just acute shortages just because how people are sucking things up. Right. Well, they've ramped up production. So right now, all the beef production, pork production's all going in. You know, so those things will be, you know, the shortages will be alleviated.

stef bradford:
And we're talking about the U.S. where things are, you know, pretty, pretty good, right? Mm hmm. But if you look around, you're also gonna see already that growers, you know, people producing crops are saying, well, who's gonna pick this? Who's gonna get this stuff?

Mark Rippetoe:
Who's going to pick strawberries? Yes.

stef bradford:
The calls out went out a couple weeks ago in the UK for people to take the harvest because they import nearly everybody that picks things normally. Well, once you cut off the flow of that someone else is going to have to pick it up.

Andrew Mueller:
We have bigger problems than we've had in my lifetime. I mean, these are huge problems ahead of us.

Mark Rippetoe:
And while we're in while we're at it, let's let's I want to take a second here and let's let's talk about the ethanol program. Ok. Shall we? What in the hell... If if President Trump wanted to do something effective right now, he would put a complete end to making fuel out of food. We are looking at a serious situation in the future about food and here and here we sit making ethanol out of out of corn. When we don't need the ethanol in our fuel. We've got we have a glut of oil. We have $20 oil right now. We don't need ethanol. We need corn to feed people. Maybe that we don't feed here. So corn maybe we feed people in South America or Mexico. But it's food.

stef bradford:
Yes. So here's the here's the here's the deal. I mean, and this has come up before when you have bad crop years and there's more food needed. We've seen it in the ethanol program has impacted people in Mexico not being able afford food. So that's that's already that's been, and that's stuff going back years. If you have a bad crop here, you have problems. But right now, about half of corn goes to food production. A lot of it to, you know, kind of bizarre things like corn oil, but goes actual food production and 37 percent goes to ethanol. Now, of the rest of it...

Andrew Mueller:
Of all the corn grown in the United States?

stef bradford:
37 percent is the most recent stat I've seen.

Mark Rippetoe:
That's fascinating.

stef bradford:
That's absolutely ridiculous.

Andrew Mueller:
I would have never guessed that.

Mark Rippetoe:
It's utterly pointless. We have not needed the ethanol in the fuel stream in Fifteen, twenty years.

stef bradford:
Well, it's what it does ethanol do? It decreases your MPG. It's harder. It's harder on your engine, especially small engines that haven't been adapted to it like like cars have in general, newer cars. But it's like you're getting less per gallon out of it. You know, it's actually making your things more expensive, not just because of the taxes and subsidies.

Andrew Mueller:
You're implying that for the first time we might need all this extra corn.

stef bradford:
I don't know that the United States will need the corn, but maybe Mexico does.

Andrew Mueller:
If we go through a global depression.

stef bradford:
We're one of... The numbers I've seen as is about only about 10 percent of countries produce enough food for themselves. We're a huge exporter of food. So that's grain. That's meat. That's all sorts of stuff like that.

Mark Rippetoe:
It's just a tragic shame that we continue down this road when even the Sierra Club a long time ago looked at the numbers involved in ethanol production and said, you know, this doesn't make nearly as much sense as we thought it was going to and should be should be abandoned. But no, we can't do that. We can't stop a government program, even though we obviously know we ought to stop the government program.

Mark Rippetoe:
Which points out a terrible, terrible problem with the whole response to this thing. The government doesn't do anything well. Yet who is running the response to this pandemic?

stef bradford:
Right. Yeah, they they all point fingers at each other. But, you know, regardless of how you want to count whose fault it is that we didn't replenish mask stockpiles and we didn't have testing done. Right. You know, the CDC points at HHS and all this back and forth stuff. We it's definitely the government, you know, has done it. Yeah.

Mark Rippetoe:
And the bureaucrats, all of which have retained their job during this tremendous unemployment spike.

stef bradford:
Right. So they're able to actually push the costs of their things, both not being prepared and response, to other people. It's very interesting.

Mark Rippetoe:
Now, here's a here's an interesting thing that I don't think has been talked about near enough. We've talked about the potential economic costs of what's going on right now. And we understand that it's it's whatever it's going to be. And we don't know how bad it's going to be. We do all understand it's going to be devastating.

Mark Rippetoe:
Everybody's had to lay off employees. Everybody that's laid off has been told to sit at home on the couch and color. Right. And just be good and sit down and don't give us any trouble and we won't give you a thousand dollar ticket.

Mark Rippetoe:
What happens in two years when there's another novel coronavirus? Is this the new normal way to respond to people getting sick?

Andrew Mueller:
Certainly, hope not.

Mark Rippetoe:
We can't have it. We can't hold civilization together under these circumstances.

stef bradford:
No, you hope that the actual consequences make people realize that, you know what? My my life and is not just whether somebody gets sick.

Andrew Mueller:
Right. Right.

stef bradford:
And destroying things that are gonna affect, especially, you know, the younger people. Right. Coming up.

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, you know, I haven't got much time left. You know, I'll be out of here a little while. I'm 64. But if these idiots destroy the economy, the current economy and the potential economy. You, my friend, are fucked. You're as fucked as you can get because they will have taken away your ability to plan anything.

Mark Rippetoe:
Do you know what they have done to this economy by designating some businesses as essential and other businesses as non-essential? Do you see the potential there? The perturbation in investment decisions in the future is well. It's impossible to calculate what the hell what is going to happen here.

stef bradford:
Yeah, I think think about this. This is something I think that people ought to push back against because what they basically said is your shit doesn't matter. You get up in the morning, right. You get up in the morning and you get dressed and you go off and you do what it is that you're doing for work. That's your life you're spending. And they just said, fuck you. You aren't worth shit. Fuck you. You're not important.

Mark Rippetoe:
Go home, sit down and shut up and leave this to us.

stef bradford:
Even better. Even better. Go ahead. I mean, why not off yourself? You weren't fucking worth anything anyway. That's that's essentially what they've said.

stef bradford:
At some of the they said you don't matter. Your life doesn't matter. Really? So I need to sacrifice my unimportant life and my unimportant actions for this nameless, faceless other.

stef bradford:
Interestingly, the government has designated themselves as essential when at the same time we know that these people are corrupt and they waste resources and they accumulate a bunch of money just going into endless bureaucratic things that interfere with us whether you're in an "essential" service or a "non-essential" one, whether you produce "important" things or things that people think are trivial, you know. So books are non-essential. Amazon is not shipping them.

Andrew Mueller:
Right? It's a good question. It's a really good, thoughtful question of what is essential. And that's a conversation, that another great example of something that's not being had right now.

stef bradford:
And what's your life? We're going to "save" lives. But also, you've got to stay in your house and you can't live your life. You can't live .

Mark Rippetoe:
Yeah. If if the government says that your job is not essential, they're saying to you, you're not essential, right? You're not essential. The government makes that decision. But guess what? The government thinks it's essential.

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, I predict that within a couple of months, for example, the governor of Virginia has shut down the entire state of Virginia until June the 10th.

stef bradford:
Governor Blackface?

Mark Rippetoe:
Yes, Gov. Ralph NORTHAM has shut down the state of Virginia until June the 10th. I predict, and I think I'm fairly safe in this prediction by keeping nice general, I'd like him like I'm about to do, a lot of people are going to have a different opinion of their government by June the 10th in Virginia than they do right now.

Mark Rippetoe:
Well, you know, I mean, if you if you demonstrate a I mean. All I can all I can say is that there better be millions of dead people.

stef bradford:
Well, see, that's that's the thing.

Mark Rippetoe:
It's in their interest. Now, this is horrible to say, but it's in their interest for more people to be dead.

Andrew Mueller:
Although, if there aren't, that'll it'll show how the policies...it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Mark Rippetoe:
If there aren't millions of dead people, it'll show how brilliant they are.

stef bradford:
That will be the claim. Completely speculative.

Mark Rippetoe:
Because they prevented all these deaths. And if there are a million dead people, then, you know, no action was too radical. Right. Depsite that fact, we don't have any numbers. Nobody's got a job. Nobody's eating.

stef bradford:
If you count those months where you had to be complete... Where you were simply restricted, how much life was lost there? Include that in the stats, because that's also lost. I saw someone on Facebook there in a different country and they were there on day 20 of being in their house already! 20 days.

Mark Rippetoe:
Being inside the house.

Andrew Mueller:
Yeah, it's it's a it seems imprecise language. Talk about saving lives because every human being dies. Yeah. Yeah. I mean. So it's so it maybe we can prolong lives. The quality of that life matters.

Mark Rippetoe:
What if we diminish the quality of that life to the right point where... There's a lots and lots and lots of old people right now that are not as concerned with staying alive as they are with enjoying, the time they've got now and being productive in the time they've got, right. In other words. They are probably in a position to make different decisions about what they do with their remaining years than some jackoff in the county government, right?

Andrew Mueller:
Mm hmm. And I've heard...

Mark Rippetoe:
It's there. I don't know what you know. If that's not our right. If if the rights of society as a whole supersede the rights of the individual, then we've entered into a different model of society than this country has ever enjoyed before, haven't we?

stef bradford:
It's very it's very interesting. So what I get my impression I get from talking to people. So there's, you know, people interact with that are all over the country. And, you know, I keep up with different echo chambers. You know, I pop in all sorts of places where people have a completely different set of assumptions and priorities than I do just, you know, see what's going on.

stef bradford:
And there's an awful lot of people, you know, that they're going along with this state. They've bought into the narrative. You know, staying home saves lives. You know, all this stuff, they're gung ho.

stef bradford:
Now, first of all, there's there's a certain percentage, they're just dying...and, you know, one of the most common things, they are dying to not have responsibility for themselves. And they also want to have more meaning to their lives. So all of a sudden, "I'm doing something important. I'm saving lives." All this stuff and all this kind of various things. And they have this this this sense of purpose and all this thing.

stef bradford:
But people's reactions to that that vary, number one. But even the people I know who are here are more individually responsible and or not, you know, so much of a collective mindset that you'll find in the cities, you know, we're it by by you know, its very nature you're in a dependent situation cause you're in a city and everything comes in to you. You know what I'm saying, you're dependent, very unnatural situation.

stef bradford:
There's a lot of people, though, that what they're doing right now is just like, "well, okay. I mean, I'll go along with this right now because. All right." But at what point do they go, "This is costing me. This is taking my life and trading it for speculative "saving lives" for other people. And it may, may keep me from getting sick and dying, even though I'm not really in a you know, I don't have the age or the conditions that would predispose me, but it could happen. When do they go, you know, "what the heck? These other people's... I'm being made to pay for everybody else. And it's not making sense." How long are those people going to remain in suspended like, "Well, I'll go along with it and I'll do it." You know.

Andrew Mueller:
Yeah. That's what people need to start thinking about. Yeah.

stef bradford:
Yeah. Like where do you go? OK. I've sacrificed enough for everybody else.

Andrew Mueller:
Are people out there willing to do this for a year?

stef bradford:
Are you... Is everybody else worth more than me and my family and my goals in life and in my interest? Am I willing to sacrifice my life for everybody else? And is everyone else doing it? And they start counting those numbers because your life is getting sacrificed when your choices are taken away, when you're not able to conduct business, when you're not able to buy food.

Andrew Mueller:
And the longer we stay, the more that question of essential versus nonessential becomes critical because. Yeah. I mean, you have people who can go out and actually live their life still. And the other people who are literally trapped at home.

stef bradford:
Yeah. And some of those essential people are feeling quite put upon, too. They're like, hey, you need to come in here and and hand out groceries or whatever it is. And they're like, hey, hey, employer, do do I have some protection against this shit? They're like, no. And they're like, whoa, hold on here. Right. So some of those people are like they're looking at their risk, the risk and going, I don't want to risk for this. They're telling me this. They're shutting up all my friends. And yet they still want me to shut the show to show up. And you're like those things.

stef bradford:
These things don't they don't make sense as a whole. But people have to. I mean, if they were letting people just decide that themselves. Some people are like, cool, I'll go and I'll get my hazard pay and I'll keep working the convenience store, whatever it is. And other people are like, nope, my mom's old, she lives with me. I don't want to risk getting her sick. I'm going to stay home.

Mark Rippetoe:
It's individual decision making.

stef bradford:
People have different priorities. But by making on everybody, especially when you start extending something that might, that that that would be a lot more reasonable in New York City, which has always you know, everyone's on top of each other.

Andrew Mueller:
Versus Wichita Falls Texas.

stef bradford:
Versus Wichita Falls versus Wichita County.

Mark Rippetoe:
The bottom line is that everybody has a different calculus, right? Everybody has a different calculus because everybody's situation is a little bit different.

Mark Rippetoe:
And a 30 year old power lifter is going to respond differently if he gets sick then a 78 year old hypertensive heart patient and everybody's... But if you make a blanket policy for everybody, compliance is going to be a big issue here.

stef bradford:
Because it's it's unfairly spreading the cost to groups that don't have the same risks. So protecting, you know, being super strict and things like nursing homes, which every time that there's like three or four cases I've seen so far where some of this got a nursing home and they're they're screwed, you know? So keeping these you know...

Mark Rippetoe:
By the same token, Carmen's mother is an assisted living facility. They've locked them in their rooms. They've locked these old people in. They won't let him in the hall. They've locked them up.

stef bradford:
Interesting. Imprisoned them.

Mark Rippetoe:
They've imprisoned them is what they've done. They've locked them in their rooms. Now, a lot of those people...

Andrew Mueller:
It's not how I would want to spend my last days.

Mark Rippetoe:
...Are not going to want to spend their last days locked in a cell when they didn't do anything wrong.

Andrew Mueller:
That's a scary thing. Nobody's being asked. We were just being told. We're being told what to do here. Yeah.

stef bradford:
Yeah, and it is. And you know. Yeah. And as usual, the people telling you that are not following their own recommendations. Locally here...

Mark Rippetoe:
Beautiful city council here in Wichita Falls sitting two feet apart. Way closer than we are now, making regulations about how far apart we have to stay. You know, it was getting real tired of this shit. Everyone's getting real, real, real tired of this shit around here. I don't know about your town or your county, but things are are not... People aren't happy about this because of the way.. The obvious corruption and graft and everything that now everybody gets to see out in the open.

stef bradford:
There's a bunch of asymmetries there, right? So there's ones where it's like you're ignoring that there's asymmetrical risk in different populations and different risk tolerance. Right. And then you have it. You know where these these guys, they say, here's what you got to do, and then, you know, let's go to the lake.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yeah, let's go to the lake. Let's put Wichita Falls on lockdown. But I think we'll go to the lake this week. My family's going to hang out lake with, you know, with other families, you know, and because, you know, we got the money and we got the connections and we'll just go to the lake.

Mark Rippetoe:
You sickening pieces of shit.

stef bradford:
Yeah. So the thing the thing is there's people - and I definitely know people that are very much they're just, to me I just think they're paranoid. They worry about all sorts of things. Right. And, you know, that's...they make those choices. But what's happened here is they've decided that other people get to make those choices for you.

stef bradford:
And in fact, if you want to make your choice about what you're going to do, you are a selfish, sorry person that wants everyone to die and we hope you die. We hope, we hope you get sick and die because you deserve it.

Andrew Mueller:
There are people who have gone that far.

stef bradford:
Well, we we see the level of malice that exists in your heart. You know, but. Yeah, but the thing is, it's like, hey, you can protect yourself. You can stay at your home. You can have your stuff delivered. And when it comes, you can spray it down with like, you know, alcohol and bring it...let's sit there for three days before you bring into the house. You can do that. But what you're saying is because you're scared, other people have to do, you know, have to go to your level and thats....

Mark Rippetoe:
Because you're scared of getting sick, you get to run my existence. That's what you're saying. And, you know, perhaps I'm...I don't know what...selfish? That I won't go along.

stef bradford:
What's false is that they're pretending that they're not being selfish.

Mark Rippetoe:
Yes, they are. They're saying that their right to not get sick supersedes my right to live my life the way I want to. Now, there's some trade off there. That's a gray area. That's obviously a gray area, but it varies with the people involved in the calculation.

stef bradford:
The context is always key. Just like the numbers. The context is very important. When you talk about the risk, it's very important. You know Wichita County isn't anything like, you know, New York. Nothing. Zero.

Andrew Mueller:
But under similar lockdown right now.

stef bradford:
Similar lockdown. And partly because, you know, look the goverment is like, let's act like we're big and important for push people around. We see what we know, what this is. There's no doubt, you know, at least on our level. We have experience with these people. But you're free to be as strict as you want with your contacts, to stay home, not make money, watch TV eat cheetoes,whatever you want to do. That's right but what you're doing is you're trying to make me pay for your fear.

stef bradford:
And at what point, I mean, seriously. At what point is... Are you so afraid of dying that you that you will not live your life?

Mark Rippetoe:
Are you so afraid of being dead that you will lay down and let people walk all over your ass?

Andrew Mueller:
How long would you do this? Yeah. I mean, I think it's an interesting thing for people to ponder. How long? How long? I mean, 10 years, Five years?

Mark Rippetoe:
And as we pointed out previously, how many times during your life are you willing to undergo this process? Because you have just gotten through showing somebody what you will tolerate.

Mark Rippetoe:
They are pushing you and they're pushing you and they're pushing you and they're measuring the number of steps backward that you will take. Don't think they're not measuring. This is a this is a test. People are gathering data. And you are providing them with a very accurate assessment of how much they can do next time.

Mark Rippetoe:
We talked about how bad the data is. The data is horrible. We don't know anything about this, yet we're making policy decisions.

Mark Rippetoe:
When you see things in the Media, you see things - see graphs, you see chart, you see death counts, you see piles of bodies in the hall in the basement of the hospital, you see mass graves, you know, plumes of smoke rising from the Chinese countryside, mass graves, piles of bodies - you cannot just let this soak into your brain without thinking about it first.

Mark Rippetoe:
So what's the right way to evaluate information at this point?

Andrew Mueller:
Yeah. So the first thing to keep in mind is that a lot of the data is it's it's all questionable, right? It's none of it is exact. I mean, no matter what, even when we get the number of deaths. I mean, maybe that's as precise as we can get. But all the rest of this data is really questionable. And then...

Mark Rippetoe:
I mean, the death counts. We know. Look, there's a body. There's a body, but why is it dead?

Andrew Mueller:
Exactly why is why is it dead? Right. And so and then and then that's often been extrapolated out. So, I mean, unfortunately, one of the first things we have to ask now is what's the agenda of the person? I mean, in the world we live in, what's the agenda of the person presenting this to me? And so what's the point they're trying to make? And then does their data...have they cherry picked data to support their political viewpoint? Because this has become very politicized.

stef bradford:
So I think everybody as soon as, you know, back in January, at least I was following it, things start coming out of China. Right. And what's your first reaction? How accurate is that information?

Mark Rippetoe:
When China tells you they've got seven new deaths yesterday. You know...

Andrew Mueller:
That doesn't sound right.

Mark Rippetoe:
...that that is bullshit. You know it's bullshit, so don't listen to it.

stef bradford:
But my point though, is everybody, as soon as China comes out with information, they go, yeah. I don't know what's really going on here. Are they trying to it? Do they really have a bad situation and they're trying to damp it down? Is what's going out to us different than what they're sharing in the country? You know, there's all sorts of different motivations, but everyone that looks at Chinese data goes, well, okay, that's interesting. But how good is it?

stef bradford:
So initially they had their they had their death counts in this. And then you see, you know, projections, they they say how much things were shut down. And you look at, you know, their electricity use, you look at are, you know, oil tankers not being docked in the port. So you start to have other measures that tell you how much impact it has. But everyone looked at that skeptically. But here's the thing. That's what you need to do in the United States. That's what you need to do if you get you pick up the Guardian in the U.K.. You need to look at those skeptically as well. You are a fool if you believe these people just just on the face of it.

Mark Rippetoe:
Because they are the Media and they lie professionally.

stef bradford:
Because the the media, if we ever had news media, I mean, it's a propaganda organ. And there's competing outlets. There's competing motivations. And they all, all the mainstream ones work in very close proximity to the governments. So they're kind of like actually, you know, you know, you start thinking about it's like you have to understand where that's coming from. And if you dig on some these things a little bit with some of that data you get you start going, yeah, but then there's this.

stef bradford:
So let's say it's Italian data. Yeah, but here's the numbers. But, you know, the average age average people dying of - attributed in Italy to coronavirus - is higher than their life expectancy. You know, and you start going, God, how old are they in Italy?

Andrew Mueller:
To go back to your question about how do I how do I think about the data. The first thing I ask myself is I play devil's advocate with myself. How could this not be true? How could the opposite of this be true? And I loved what you were alluding to, which is, okay, what what's the underlying... So often we're reading the news we're just getting the top the sensational number, the top story. What are they actually quoting? Where's this the research behind what they're quoting. Read that. Go back and look at the source.

stef bradford:
They're interpreting it for you.

Andrew Mueller:
Right. Rather than... So you've got to actually look at the data yourself.

stef bradford:
You got to look at the information yourself, as much as you can access it. Right.

Mark Rippetoe:
As easy as it is to just read the abstract, this is probably the wrong thing to do, especially in a situation this critical.

Andrew Mueller:
Especially if you're in any position of leadership right now, even at a local level. If you don't have the ability to do that, you need to surround yourself with people that do and not be taking away sensational headlines and making policy decisions based on a journalist's interpretation of a study. I mean, that's really scary if a politician is making policy decisions from a journalist's interpretation of a scientific article. That's not a person that's qualified to do that. No, no, no.

stef bradford:
The other thing in general, too, is it's it's become a thing over time [that] we've been trained to look to the experts. Again, this is just like he was saying, to look at the actual data and just take someone else's interpretation or distillation of it. We've been trained over time. We've been accustomed to -- you look at the expert. You look at the guy with credentials. You just you don't think because your experience doesn't matter. Your evaluation of the risk doesn't matter. That's how we've been trained over time to react to stuff.

stef bradford:
But think about it. I mean, just just even here locally. Okay. You know you know, you obviously don't want to get stuff. You know, you don't want to be around sick people, it might be hard to identify sick people, all this stuff. But it's just like, well, what's what's your situation? Well if your situation is, you're not... you're coming in contact with the same 10 people every day, it's different than if you're in New York City.

stef bradford:
So you want to be able to say like, yeah. Man, I'm glad I'm out in New York City. Cities have always been about famine and plague. You know why? There's a bunch of people stuck together. And if things go wrong, things get really bad, really fast. Is that different than, you know, out here in North Texas? Yeah, it is.

stef bradford:
So don't you shouldn't be reacting as much out here as you are there. If I wasn't locked up in my apartment in Brooklyn. Yeah, I'd be thinking about a pistol, you know, one way or the other, someone's dying.

Andrew Mueller:
Right. I think one last point to that, too. I think if you are thinking critically, you have to if you're gonna listen, you're going gonna read what one expert feels like. Find the expert that believes the opposite and read both of their opinions and then start to form an opinion for yourself. You're really doing a disservice if you haven't looked at both sides.

stef bradford:
Right. You can. You can certainly look at something that seems plausible. Right. Yeah. Kind of like this seems plausible. Look at the guy saying, yeah, but you know, he left out that data does this and I come up with a whole different thing and then they just decide what should because of what is your experience is very important.

Andrew Mueller:
Right. And then, yeah, you can use your own your experience to fuse those together and say what makes sense here. Right.

stef bradford:
You should not discounting your own experience in your own context for the experts that are completely in a completely different situation. People do that, though.

Mark Rippetoe:
And in addition to that, if you're looking... there are two sides to this problem. There's the disease side of the problem and then there's the effect on society side of the problem.

Andrew Mueller:
You have to look at both. You have to.

Mark Rippetoe:
Like an actuary. You have to look at all the data because there's a cost benefit analysis. A risk benefit analysis to this situation. People are going to die now. Yeah, but they're gonna die. People are gonna die anyway. But like we mentioned earlier, is the cure worse than the disease? And we are headed in the direction of hell yes.

Andrew Mueller:
Yeah, quite possibly.

Mark Rippetoe:
Quite possibly. It most assuredly will be. Appreciate your being here today. Andrew, thank you for coming in. Stef, thanks for coming in. Dr. Mueller, Dr. Bradford joined us here on Starting Strength Radio.

Mark Rippetoe:
Guys, use your heads. Stay safe. But use your head. Thanks for watching.

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Mark Rippetoe, (Dr) Stef Bradford, and Dr. Andrew Mueller discuss risk assessment, policy decisions, and the lack of reliable data relating to COVID-19.

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