Author Topic: Theories on the origin of Coronavirus (split from Is it OK to go Caving)  (Read 2579 times)

Online Speleotron

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The code might be bad but the predictions seem OK. With 41 k to 60 k deaths in 4 months with lockdown, does 200 k to 500 k deaths over the full year without lockdown seem unreasonable?
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Offline JoshW

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I don't think Ferguessen's model was dodgy. He predicted 200 k to 500 k deaths in 2020 if there was no lockdown. With a lockdown we have had 40 k to 60 k deaths in 4 months so his initial prediction doesn't seem so far out.

Its been ripped to shreds everywhere.
Just one link, many others.
https://technocracy.news/neil-fergusons-computer-model-is-ripped-to-shreds/

Would explain why he didn't want to make it public.

can't believe I got to the end of that "article" but *spoiler alert* the end sentence is:
Indirectly, on the surface at least, this ties Ferguson to climate change, a cause that the lockdown has served very well by managing to shut down the world economy.

This sentence tops off a paragraph where they dig into his past and desperately tie him to Bill Gates, a name that will get the loonies (anti-vaxxers, climate change deniers, flat earthers etc) frothing at the mouth.

EDIT: also makes a big deal of the model having "been heavily massaged by Microsoft engineers" another attempt to get the anti-bill gates bunch in on the cause

Offline andrewmc

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From an engineering perspective, we're not usually interested in absolute certainty. As an engineer, I ask:
[...]
 (3) Is there a more efficient way to make it stand up?

But engineering is a directed, logical process.
Nature is a pile of happy accidents.
So applying engineering to nature is not a fair comparison. That's what science is for.

Offline andrewmc

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I don't think Ferguessen's model was dodgy. He predicted 200 k to 500 k deaths in 2020 if there was no lockdown. With a lockdown we have had 40 k to 60 k deaths in 4 months so his initial prediction doesn't seem so far out.

Its been ripped to shreds everywhere.
Just one link, many others.
https://technocracy.news/neil-fergusons-computer-model-is-ripped-to-shreds/

Would explain why he didn't want to make it public.

https://thecritic.co.uk/in-defence-of-neil-ferguson/

and more specifically to do with the code:
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-01685-y?fbclid=IwAR2U5aHkUdTn1frSW3XCFbmS0aEQK0_SA18251wNj6gIpcEiNG6O2bvHv8w

The results of the model were a surprise to exactly one group of people - the British government. Everyone else (including me) went 'yes, that tallies with my back-of-the-envelope calculation'.

Yes, scientists are often crap coders and write crap codes. They aren't paid to code, there is no incentive to write good code; scientists are pressured to publish. I know, because I used to be one (albeit briefly and not very succesfully).

Programmers often build clean, individual units of code, test them and then combine them together to carry out a particular task. They usually have the advantage that it has probably been done before and the expected outcomes are known.
Sometimes scientific codes are written like this, but quite often they start as a little program that slowly grows into a bit of a monstrosity. It's much more difficult to test many scientific codes since quite often the 'right' answer isn't actually known, and it is more common to just check the answer 'looks' right. Testing is often by running a code using initial conditions where the output is known or expected, or by comparison to the 'real' world. For example in Astrophysics you can compare your star formation code against real observations, although this is very hard to do. Generally you don't know what the important physics your code even should have in it is, so worrying about having a perfect code is usually missing the point :P

Many 'minor' bugs will be lost in the noise anyway, so codes are often a mess - but that doesn't make the whole code 'wrong' (or at least, the degree to which the results are 'wrong' due to bugs is small). Sometimes the bugs are catastrophic, which is obvious; sometimes it is less obvious, but at least you might get another paper out of it :P That's why you test - but whole-system testing, which doesn't improve code quality generally.

In other words, it's hard!

Offline Speleofish

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A lot of people have ripped Fergussons model to shreds but there's a recent publication supporting it (though I've lost the reference). What I'm not clear about is whether his department produced a range of possible outcomes and the worst case is the one that got all the publicity.
The modelling we received predicted a peak of 280 odd ventilated patients by late April (based on his predictions) when in fact we peaked at 60-ish. However, our own modelling suggested that a further week's delay in locking down could have doubled or trebled that. Given all the uncertainties in these sort of models, I don't think his predictions were particularly improbable.

Offline Speleofish

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As far as the source of the virus is concerned, there's a good Nature article on this. It suggests it's unlikely the virus was manufactured (1) because the RNA backbone of the virus is novel and anyone trying to create a novel virus would probably have started with the backbone from a known coronavirus; (2) the 'receptor binding domain' (RBD) - the bit that binds to a receptor on the human cell surface - is also novel and would be expected, based on computer modelling, to be very ineffective at binding to human cells. This is clearly not the case but, if you were trying to make a virus, you'd probably start with a structure that seemed likely to work.
Finally, there's a paper by Kristian Andersen (Nature Med 26, 450-452, 2020) arguing there's a lot of data suggesting it's natural but no data showing any connection to a lab.
Bottom line, there seems to be a consensus that it's natural and that it probably didn't escape from a lab but proving it either way is impossible.

Offline PeteHall

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From an engineering perspective, we're not usually interested in absolute certainty. As an engineer, I ask:
[...]
 (3) Is there a more efficient way to make it stand up?

But engineering is a directed, logical process.
Nature is a pile of happy accidents.
So applying engineering to nature is not a fair comparison. That's what science is for.

You are probably right, however it is a logical way to analyse an uncertain situation. In this scenario, I am effectively asking "is there a more simple explanation?" Occam's Razor if you like.

Perhaps I should have used the word "simple" instead of "efficient". In construction, this often amounts to the same thing as efficiencies during construction generally come from simple fool-proof designs.

To my mind, the theory that it accidentally escaped from the lab is the most simple possible explanation and therefore the most likely. That's not to say I think it is definitely the case, just that it seems to be the most probable explanation.
The distance between stupidity and genius is measured only by success.

Online Speleotron

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I think the virus being man-made and the virus having escaped from a lab are two separate possibilities. The Wuhan lab worked on natural viruses as well as man-made ones and it is possible that SARS-CoV-2 is a natural virus that just escaped. I'm not saying this is what happened, how could I know? But there is historical precedent for natural viruses escaping from labs in China and all round the world, SARS escaped from labs in China in the same way (this didn't start the outbreak).

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/304/5671/659
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Offline mikem

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& the technocracy website cited has an anti politician stance, so will be biased against the report:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technocracy_movement

Online Duck ditch

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The rumours start in the White House. Trump says he has tremendous evidence but doesnt release it. Even though it would benefit his position tremendously.  Governments throughout the world shut down because the scientists say it’s fucking serious.  Fucking deaths in hospitals cause panic and paranoia. 
Luckily everybody else is looking in the wet market where 100s of viruses start off but luckily don’t take over the world.  It started in Wuhan labs. Maybe.

How about.  It started in bats then another species then to humans because of bad practice in wet markets conspiracy theory.  Does that help.

Offline andrewmc

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How about.  It started in bats then another species then to humans because of bad practice in wet markets conspiracy theory.  Does that help.

As was predicted would happen for years... The simplest and most likely explanation.

Offline zzzzzzed

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Given all the uncertainties in these sort of models, I don't think his predictions were particularly improbable.
Fergusson’s model predicted that Sweden would have 40,000 deaths by 1st May without a severe lockdown.  His model predicted that the most severe type of lockdown could reduce that to 10,000 to 20,000 deaths by 1st May.

They didn’t lockdown and the actual deaths were below 2,500 by the 1st May.

That suggests to me that his model was wrong.
https://www.aier.org/article/imperial-college-model-applied-to-sweden-yields-preposterous-results/



Offline mikem

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As always, hindsight is a fabulous thing (does the model take Sweden's differences into account, or was it specific to UK population...)

Online pwhole

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As I've pointed out before, foresight is an even more fabulous thing than hindsight, which seems to be rarely used by most politicians, even with the resources at their fingertips. But I'm not sure if Sweden and Great Britain can be compared accurately. The population of Sweden is only a fifth of Britain's, and it's clustered mostly around the south and south-east - hardly anyone lives in the north and north-west, so there's huge expanses of empty land. Britain has a much more evenly-distributed population, though I have no idea if it's more densely-populated in urban areas than Sweden. The average incomes aren't that far apart, but the spread between rich and poor may be different too.

Demographics may play a part, and also cultural factors like how much a population trusts its government may have an impact on how 'willing' people may or may not be to do a certain thing. As I've mentioned many times before, most people I see in my area on the street don't seem to be observing social distancing at all, and haven't really been since a couple of weeks after lockdown. Large shops are still enforcing it, but local stores and takeways have only made token nods to it really. The ever-present begging teams sprawl over the pavements in large groups discussing strategies, pitches and shifts. Whether we have a higher incidence of Covis-19 in this particular area as a result I have no idea yet, but it can be pretty scary if you are really trying to observe it when few others seem to be.

It's a very mixed community here, with people of Chinese, Turkish, Pakistani, Indian, Sudanese, Yemeni, Somali, Ethiopian and Polish origin, apart from the white British, who are probably not in a majority. Truthfully, the people who make the most visible effort (by wearing a mask) are the Chinese, and nearly all have them. Not many other people do, though I always cover my face in the local shops as most don't yet have screens.

If I go to the posher or more 'socially liberal' districts (invariably whiter), folks are visibly more cautious, and in some cases will cross the road to avoid passing, even on a 4m-wide pavement. So maybe income and social standing really do play a part on how you behave, even if you fundamentally don't trust the government much. As in, if you can afford to ride out the disruption by playing safe, and you care about your health, you may well avoid it. If you can't afford it, or don't care, you may well not.

Obviously those who can't afford it but DO care, are going to be the least happy people in this situation. Though I'm not asking for sympathy ;)

Offline mikem

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Yes, as with most illnesses, it does line up with poverty - the north east is particularly badly affected at moment.

Offline Mrs Trellis

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My two penn'orth:-

The UK , particularly England , has many large , densely populated conurbations.  The UK spends more time indoors , particularly in the evenings and at work.

The virus seems to be more fatal to :- age > 70, men, people of Bangladeshi origin,  underlying health conditions "the obesity syndrome" of diabetes type 2 & hypertension, bald people, BAME ethnicity, lack of vitamin D (possibly the main common factor in BAME covid deaths plus possibly care home residents). Of course the more of these factors being present the worse the prospects.

We walk every day locally and our observation is that the older the other people out the more they respect the 2m. distancing. The worst offenders are cyclists. They never stop or give way and will bisect two couples keeping 2m. apart. Very few cycles these days have bells or other warning devices nd thus are often undetected when approaching rapidly from behind. Joggers are very similar plus they exhale forcefully when passing. We've had to step onto roads, into nettle beds, into brooks to keep the 2m. Dog walkers, particularly a couple with one or more dogs each tend to spead out over the path/pavement and never think of walking in single file.

Joggers, cyclists and dog walkers  :chair:

Mrs Trellis
Upper Sheeps Bottom
North Wales

Offline Mrs Trellis

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The "More or Less" programme on BBCRadio 4 is very informative on the modelling & stats.

Link:- https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000jw02
Mrs Trellis
Upper Sheeps Bottom
North Wales

Online MarkS

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The worst offenders are cyclists. They never stop or give way [...] Joggers are very similar [...]

Please avoid sweeping comments like these. I agree that many do fit your descriptions, but many also don't.

Offline mikem

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& the chances of them passing it on to you is proportional to the distance AND the amount of time - if they stopped they'd be increasing the latter. You're still more likely to get mown down by one than to catch anything off them!

Same with the dog walkers, if they walk in single file, they are increasing their exposure to the air that previous person has occupied.

Offline Mrs Trellis

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The worst offenders are cyclists. They never stop or give way [...] Joggers are very similar [...]

Please avoid sweeping comments like these. I agree that many do fit your descriptions, but many also don't.

I can only speak as I've found.  Others may have different experiences but please don't tell me to lie about our own experience - as I made clear.

As for cyclists stopping - if they stop 2m. away that's fine but riding less than 1m. away isn't.
Mrs Trellis
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Offline Alex

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Sorry bit of a rant...

I think it's because dog walkers are across the paths all the time that cyclist get impatient. If joggers and cyclists had to stop every 20m they might as well walk, is it too hard for people to pay attention to their surroundings? I always slow down when on my bike, but because of this it makes it a very frustrating and a bit scary situation as I am getting too close for comfort to those people as other people are approaching who don't care. Also some of those cyclists may be nurses or doctors going to work, they have time to keep so can't afford to keep stopping frequently. Why do people pay no attention when they are on a cycle path, I mean what do you expect, it's like going on a road and being surprised to see a car. There also seems to be so many people out and about recently too (until it started raining, phew), so I have basically given up using off cycle routes in urban areas and have to dice with death on the roads and piss drivers off instead (I piss them off just because I am there).

Also why is it people spread out all across the path if they are in the same household? If you are a couple, you don't need to give a 2m gap why you spread out forcing anyone moving faster than you (even someone else walking at a faster pace) to go through the middle and getting within 2m, stick to one side. Lots of people do this on roads too, what if a car came? Large families too also spread across an entire 4m wide track, so how is anyone meant to get past, without getting too close?

Thankfully where I live at least I can run right into the moors and not see a soul, it's great or now drive off somewhere and go down down caves where I don't see anyone either, fantastic. Finally why is it people all go to the same place as everyone else? Carparks full, then F off somewhere else, don't just park on the road on a double yellow also stop following everyone else when there are many other path's available, its amazing at Greenfield Res it's like a bloody festival there last weekend on the bottom res, but the upper res's have no one at all! (I cycled there so did not use up a car parking space)

We are suppose to avoid everyone but for some-reason the "great british" public follow each other around like those dumb fluffy things on four legs. I don't get it, no wonder we are all F'd.

« Last Edit: June 12, 2020, 05:20:36 pm by Alex »
Anything I say is represents my own opinion and not that of a any club/organisation that I am a member of (unless its good of course)

Offline Alex

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BTW how did we get onto complaining about each other path user from the origins of the virus?
Anything I say is represents my own opinion and not that of a any club/organisation that I am a member of (unless its good of course)

Offline mikem

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Coz there's only so many conspiracy theories we can come up with 😉

Online droid

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Please avoid sweeping comments like these.

If everybody on here did that then discussions would be very short.

specially where CRoW is concerned.... :lol:
No longer 'Exceptionally antagonistic' 'Deliberately inflammatory'

Offline ZombieCake

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Quote
Coz there's only so many conspiracy theories we can come up with

I've thought of a couple:

> It's a deep economic conspiracy by shampoo makers.  No one can get haircuts anymore (I'm not obsessed!), so you have to buy more stuff from the shampoo isle.

> If it was a lab release then a natural (or at least started as natural) virus stockpiled and used for 'research' would be best.  A man made virus that effectively says 'Made in China' or 'Property of the CIA' in its makeup wouldn't be good as a bio weapon as it gives the game away.  Easy to then divert attention and point the finger at other sources as well. Bats and pangolins don't have good lawyers.  Think of the good old days when the UK and others had buckets of anthrax and smallpox lying around.


 

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