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Will They Ever Come Clean About The Damage They Caused?

Will They Ever Come Clean About The Damage They Caused?

Authored by Mark Oshinskie via The Brownstone Institute,

Over the past few years,…



Will They Ever Come Clean About The Damage They Caused?

Authored by Mark Oshinskie via The Brownstone Institute,

Over the past few years, two immigrants in their mid-fifties became my friends. These guys are among the gentlest spirits that I’ve known, though one tells me he was a boxer back in the day and he works like a beast with a pick and shovel. The other man speaks five languages and knows far more about Botany than I do.

While both men are delightful to interact with, each binge drinks every so often. One drinks until he passes out at the community gardens I manage and sometimes ends up in the hospital, drying out, for multiple days. The other becomes annoyingly loud and manic and does stupid stuff that causes him to lose jobs. He also suffers broken bones in unexplained tumbles. Both have visibly damaged their bodies by drinking excessively and seem likely to die before their time. 

When I talk to these two about a given alcohol-fueled episode, they initially deny that they had drank to excess. After I mention the contrary evidence provided by the above outcomes, one admitted that, well, he might have had a beer or two. The other would only cop to imbibing a small amount of an alcohol-based herbal tincture remedy.


We’ve all seen this same denialism regarding other instances of misbehavior. Initially, the transgressor denies any wrongdoing. Then, when confronted with specific proof, he understates the magnitude and/or frequency of the misconduct. These incomplete, and thus ultimately dishonest, admissions assuage his guilt and allow him to, at least in his own mind, save face and continue his self-deception. Like the child who hides his eyes and thinks you can’t see him because he can’t see you, the self-deceiving misrepresenter thinks he’s also deceiving the listener.

After 41 months, Coronamania exponents find themselves in the same place as unrecovering alcoholics.

For nearly three-and-a-half years, they’ve wildly lied about Covid’s danger. In particular, they cited grossly inflated death tolls to build panic and to justify their failed interventions. Nearly all of those said to have died “from Covid” were old, sick and/or obese and would have died soon whether infected or not. Those who didn’t fit this profile likely died iatrogenically from destructive hospital protocols, such as ventilation and kidney-damaging Remdesivir. 

Hence, there was never a good reason to limit the lives of the non-old. This virus never justified, e.g., closing schools or mandatorily jabbing hundreds of millions.

Additionally, the Covid overreactors lied about how effective the masks, tests and vaxxes were. When the shots clearly failed - as had been promised - to stop infection and spread, they moved the goalposts to “Well, the shots kept people out of the hospital.” 

Yet, neither I, nor many uninjected others, have ever “gotten the virus,” much less been hospitalized. When I say this to vaxxers, they tell me I’m just lucky. It’s certainly not because I masked or hid form people. Because I didn’t.

At long last, many of the Covidmanic are modifying their narrativeDavid Leonhardt’s recent New York Times article typifies this long overdue acknowledgement and abandonment of some - but not all - of the linchpin Covid lies. For example, 41 months after the racket began, Leonhardt quotes an “expert” who says that Covid deaths correlate closely with old age. 


As if this wasn’t obvious in March, 2020.

In an attempt to self-deceivingly save face and to appear to take a moderate, “nuanced” view, Leonhardt tentatively suggests that “the Pandemic” is over. He says that we should take comfort because, after 41 months of excess mortality, there are scarcely more than average excess deaths. 

To begin with, I question this assertion; the figures I’ve seen still show significantly elevated deaths in many highly-vaxxed nations, including the United States. In the same week that Leonhardt posted his semi-apologia, statistical analyst/Subsatcker Ethical Skeptic discussed the ongoing understatement of excess deaths. According to Skeptic, non-natural deaths in late July, 2023 are still running 14 percent above historical trends.

Even if excess deaths were flattening, one would have to consider that many deaths of the old and sick seem to have been “pulled forward” during the Scamdemic. Given prior death “spikes” over the past three years, there are fewer old, sick, obese people around than before. Thus, fewer in that cohort should be dying recently. Accordingly, we should now expect lower than average death rates. Having normal death rates would show that some factor other than Covid is causing excess deaths. I suspect these deaths derive from the Covid shots and such lingering Covid overreaction effects as substance abuse, depression, weight gain, and impoverishment.

Notably, after three years of using inflated death figures to create the panic that delivered political and economic advantages, such Covid exaggerators as politicians, public health administrators, and Leonhardt now admit that Covid deaths were significantly overcounted. But, like hospitalized alcoholics who say they just had a couple of beers, the Covid-crazed won’t admit how much these numbers were exaggerated. They only admit to a 30 percent overstatement. 

The 30 percent figure seems far too low for at least three reasons. Firstly, 65 percent of those who died with Covid were over 80. By that age, the average person has passed away; the bodies of those who’ve survived are wearing out. Secondly, the CARES Act strongly incentivized hospitals to overcode for Covid and families to accept death certificates blaming Covid. Thirdly, and anecdotally, though I directly know many hundreds of people, I know zero who were said to have died of Covid. I indirectly know—i.e., people I know have told me about—eight people they knew who were said to have died of Covid. Four of the decedents were over 90, two more had Stage 4 cancer, one was over 70 and very overweight with congestive heart failure and one, in his forties, was morbidly obese. Thus, eight out of eight reported “Covid deaths” that I know of involved distinctly unwell people. 

By logical extension/extrapolation, all or nearly all purported Covid deaths seem to have extrinsic causes. Yet, throughout the Scamdemic, politicians, bureaucrats, and the media consequentially pretended that all were imperiled.

Further, while he concedes that Covid deaths were overstated by 30 percent, Leonhardt engages in statistical sleight of hand. He continues to cite a 1.1 million Covid death toll, without deducting the overcounted 30 percent. Staying above the million-death threshold has too much emotional/rhetorical value to give away. 

Neither Leonhardt nor other Coronamania backers ever acknowledge that medical practices that killed many were modified. Instead, in an abiding homage to Pharma, Leonhardt dutifully praises Paxlovid, while never noting that other, low-cost, off-label pharmaceutical/nutraceutical protocols worked well for many, before Paxlovid was marketed. Governments and many doctors withheld from the public information regarding these alt protocols. If excess deaths have flattened, much of that reflects hospitals’ retreat from the ham-handed Covid protocols they previously used.

Reciting a central tenet of the Coronamanic faith, Leonhardt asserts that the shots significantly curtailed “The Pandemic.” But purported Covid deaths didn’t decline in synch with vaxx uptake; as more people injected in early 2021, there wasn’t a corresponding, sustained, linear drop in purported Covid deaths. To the contrary, ostensible Covid deaths “spiked” in 2021. In the second half of 2021, and throughout 2022, the vaxxes “wore off” and failed, on a mass scale, to prevent illness. Hence, vaxx uptake fell off a cliff. It seems highly unlikely that an ostensible decline of deaths in mid-2023 would derive from injections that failed two-plus years ago and have been widely avoided since. 

Those who injected have been more, not less, likely to have become sick. If the shots didn’t—as promised—stop the spread, why would one believe those who assert that the shots make illness less severe? 

Relatedly, Leonhardt never considers that viruses naturally evolve to weaker forms. Viral adaptation underlies the persistent ads urging everyone to get the latest “bivalent booster” to thwart the latest variant. But only the most gullible and fearful are rolling up sleeves for these worthless shots.

Intransigent vaxx backers continue to misleadingly characterize the vaxx data. For example, Leonhardt asserts that the non-injected are more likely, on a percentage basis, to die from Covid. By relying on percentages, rather than absolute death stats, Leonhardt unwittingly implies what is undeniably true: many of the vaxxed have died with Covid. The vaunted vaxxes’ protection from serious illness is far from ironclad. 

Leonhardt’s vaxx advocacy also overlooks the statistical distortions used to make the shots look better. First, those who administered the shots strategically declined to vaxx those who were so frail that the shots might kill them. Second, it fails to take into account that those who injected weren’t counted as vaxxed for 42 days after their first shot. As the shots initially suppress immunity, one should expect the shots to increase illness and deaths in the weeks after the shot regimen begins. Injectors who died within this initial 42 days were falsely counted as “unvaxxed.” 

Delivering a Schadenfreude-y dopamine hit to his Times tribe, Leonhardt reports that Covid now kills more whites and Republicans, because these demographic groups disproportionately eschewed the shots. Initially, the study seems flawed because it derived party affiliation data from voter registrations, even though many voters don’t declare an affiliation or may cross party lines when they vote.

Secondly, in yesterday’s Substack, Alex Berenson identifies basic flaws in this politically-driven study. Despite media misportrayals, the study concluded that only Republicans over 75—who had less ability to decline shots and were more likely with or without the shots—were more likely to die than are Democrats.

Leonhardt doesn’t mention that the study found that death rates for Democrats were higher than Republicans between ages 65-74. Nor does he mention that death rates were the same for those under 64 in either party. Thirdly, Leonhardt’s race-based assertion seems hard to reconcile with data that jab uptake among whites was higher than that among blacks and Latinos and the media’s repeated assertions that, owing to medical access disparities, Covid deaths were higher among minorities. 

Most fundamentally, the study shows that Democrats base their worldviews and their “Science” on political affiliation and race. But did anyone need a study to learn that?

Leonhardt also conspicuously fails to mention that hundreds of thousands have suffered apparent vaxx injuries or deaths from heart attacks, strokes or cancers. Vaxx critics say that the shots are causing a net loss, not gain, in life span.

Leonhardt also tacitly admits something that few, if any, in his camp would admit for 41 months, namely that the natural immunity that follows infection confers immunity. His belated admission of a bedrock epidemiological principle—herd immunity—that was, from 2020-23, used to vilify those who stated it is another instance of Coronamanic jersey-switching. 

Leonhardt also belatedly, but only obliquely, admits what many who cite excess deaths won’t admit: the lockdowns/closures themselves killed multitudes. Those who supported the lockdowns/closures engendered the isolation, despair, overdoses, gun violence and postponed medical treatments for non-Covid ailments.

Even if the lockdown/mask/test/vaxx supporters were to properly admit they were wrong about everything, their mea culpa would be far too late. Too much damage has already been done.

The Machiavellians who concocted the Covid response and the media who sold it don’t regret what they did. It served their political, social, and economic purposes. Thus, the truth can now be publicly admitted, though not fully. Denying some aspects of reality allows the Coronamanic to deceive many and to think of themselves as good, smart people for having supported lockdowns, school closures, masks, tests, and shots.

Ultimately, there’s one big difference between alcoholics, on the one hand, and the government and media that effected the Scamdemic and those who went along: while alcoholics mostly victimize themselves, those who effected and complied with Scamdemic policies victimized hundreds of millions of others.

Republished from the author’s Substack

Tyler Durden Thu, 08/10/2023 - 19:40

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Glimpse Of Sanity: Dartmouth Returns Standardized Testing For Admission After Failed Experiment

Glimpse Of Sanity: Dartmouth Returns Standardized Testing For Admission After Failed Experiment

In response to the virus pandemic and nationwide…



Glimpse Of Sanity: Dartmouth Returns Standardized Testing For Admission After Failed Experiment

In response to the virus pandemic and nationwide Black Lives Matter riots in the summer of 2020, some elite colleges and universities shredded testing requirements for admission. Several years later, the test-optional admission has yet to produce the promising results for racial and class-based equity that many woke academic institutions wished.

The failure of test-optional admission policies has forced Dartmouth College to reinstate standardized test scores for admission starting next year. This should never have been eliminated, as merit will always prevail. 

"Nearly four years later, having studied the role of testing in our admissions process as well as its value as a predictor of student success at Dartmouth, we are removing the extended pause and reactivating the standardized testing requirement for undergraduate admission, effective with the Class of 2029," Dartmouth wrote in a press release Monday morning. 

"For Dartmouth, the evidence supporting our reactivation of a required testing policy is clear. Our bottom line is simple: we believe a standardized testing requirement will improve—not detract from—our ability to bring the most promising and diverse students to our campus," the elite college said. 

Who would've thought eliminating standardized tests for admission because a fringe minority said they were instruments of racism and a biased system was ever a good idea? 

Also, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out. More from Dartmouth, who commissioned the research: 

They also found that test scores represent an especially valuable tool to identify high-achieving applicants from low and middle-income backgrounds; who are first-generation college-bound; as well as students from urban and rural backgrounds.

All the colleges and universities that quickly adopted test-optional admissions in 2020 experienced a surge in applications. Perhaps the push for test-optional was under the guise of woke equality but was nothing more than protecting the bottom line for these institutions. 

A glimpse of sanity returns to woke schools: Admit qualified kids. Next up is corporate America and all tiers of the US government. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/05/2024 - 17:20

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From Colombia to Laos: protecting crops through nanotechnology

In a recent breakthrough, DNA sequencing technology has uncovered the culprit behind cassava witches’ broom disease: the fungus genus Ceratobasidium….



In a recent breakthrough, DNA sequencing technology has uncovered the culprit behind cassava witches’ broom disease: the fungus genus Ceratobasidium.

Credit: Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT / A. Galeon

In a recent breakthrough, DNA sequencing technology has uncovered the culprit behind cassava witches’ broom disease: the fungus genus Ceratobasidium.

The cutting-edge nanopore technology used for this discovery was first developed to track the COVID-19 virus in Colombia, but is equally suited to identifying and reducing the spread of plant viruses. The findings, published in Scientific Reports, will help plant pathologists in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand protect farmers’ valued cassava harvest.

“In Southeast Asia, most smallholder farmers rely on cassava: its starch-rich roots form the basis of an industry that supports millions of producers. In the past decade, however, Cassava Witches’ Broom disease has stunted plants, reducing harvests to levels that barely permit affected farmers to make a living,” said Wilmer Cuellar, Senior Scientist at the Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT.

Since 2017, researchers at the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT have incorporated nanotechnology into their research, specifically through the Oxford Nanopore DNA/RNA sequencing technology. This advanced tool provides insight into the deeper mysteries of plant life, accurately identifying pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and fungi that affect crops.

“When you find out which pathogen is present in a crop, you can implement an appropriate diagnostic method, search for resistant varieties and integrate that diagnosis into variety selection processes,” said Ana Maria Leiva, Senior Researcher at the Alliance.

Nanotechnology, in essence, is the bridge between what we see and what we can barely imagine. This innovation opens a window into the microscopic world of plant life and pathogens, redefining the way we understand and combat diseases that affect crops.

For an in-depth look at the technology being used in Laos and Colombia, please explore this link.

About the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT

The Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) delivers research-based solutions that harness agricultural biodiversity and sustainably transform food systems to improve people’s lives. Alliance solutions address the global crises of malnutrition, climate change, biodiversity loss, and environmental degradation.

With novel partnerships, the Alliance generates evidence and mainstreams innovations to transform food systems and landscapes so that they sustain the planet, drive prosperity, and nourish people in a climate crisis.

The Alliance is part of CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future.

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Public Health from the People

There are many ways to privately improve public health. Such responses make use of local knowledge, entrepreneurship, and civil society and pursue standard…



There are many ways to privately improve public health. Such responses make use of local knowledge, entrepreneurship, and civil society and pursue standard goals of public health like controlling the spread of infectious diseases. Moreover, private responses improve overall welfare by lowering the total costs of a disease and limiting externalities. If private responses can produce similar outcomes as standard, governmental public health programs—and more—perhaps we should reconsider when and where we call upon governments to improve public health.

Two Kinds of Private Responses

Following Vernon Smith and his distinction between constructivist and ecological rationality, private actors can engage in two general kinds of public health improvements. They can engage in concerted efforts to improve public health, and they can engage in emergent responses through myriad interactions.1 Three stories below—about William Walsh, Martha Claghorn, and Edwin Gould—indicate concerted efforts to improve public health.

Walsh, a Catholic priest and President of the Father Matthew Society in Memphis, Tennessee, used the society to organize a refugee camp outside of the city and helped hundreds of people avoid yellow fever during the 1878 epidemic—one of the worst yellow fever epidemics in the country.2 Shortly after learning mosquitos carried diseases prior to 1901, Claghorn chaired the Civics committee of the Twentieth Century Club in the Richmond Hill area of Long Island and led a community-wide anti-mosquito campaign, which rid the area of potentially infectious mosquitos.3 After realizing that many of his employees were sick with malaria, Gould—president of the St. Louis Southwestern Railway—used his wealth and business firm to finance and develop an anti-mosquito campaign throughout Texas.4

These stories show how individuals recognize a public health problem given their circumstances and use their knowledge and available resources to resolve the problem. More recently, we might all be familiar with private, constructivist responses to Covid-19. We all made plans to avoid others and produce our desired amount of exposure. Many people made facemasks from old clothes or purchased them from facemask producers. Businesses, retailers, restaurants, and many others adapted in various ways to limit exposure for their workers and customers. My favorite example, albeit not relevant for most, is the so-called bubble that was implemented by the NBA, which housed teams, encouraged play, and limited infection. The NBA finished their season and crowned a 2020 champion only because of the privately designed and implemented bubble solution. The key is that the bubble pursued all of those objectives, not just one of them. All of these responses indicate how private interactions among people can minimize their exposure, through negotiation, discussion, and mutually beneficial means.

In addition to privately designed solutions, emergent public health responses are also important, perhaps even more so. Long-term migration and settlement patterns away from infectious diseases, consumption to improve nutrition, hygiene, sanitation, and the development of social norms to encourage preventative behavior are all different kinds of emergent public health responses. Each of these responses—developed through the actions of no one person—are substantial ways to improve public health.

First, consider how common migration operates as a means of lowering prevalence rates. As soon as people realized that living near stagnant bodies of water increased the probability of acquiring diseases like malaria, they were more likely to leave those areas and subsequently avoid them. Places with such features became known as places to avoid; people also developed myths to dissuade visitors and inhabitants.5 Such myths and associations left places like the Roman Campagna desolate for centuries. These kinds of cultural associations are also widespread; for example, many people in North and South Carolina moved to areas with higher elevation and took summer vacations to avoid diseases like malaria. East End and West End, in London, also developed because of the opportunities people had to migrate away from (and towards) several diseases.6

While these migration patterns might develop over decades, movement and migration also help in more acute public health crises. During the 1878 yellow fever epidemic throughout the southern United States, for example, thousands of people fled their cities to avoid infection. They took any means of transportation they could find. While some fled to other, more northern cities, many acquired temporary housing in suburbs, and many formed campsites and refugee camps outside of their city. The refugee camps outside of Memphis—like the one formed by William Walsh—helped hundreds and thousands of people avoid infection throughout the Fall of 1878.

Second, more mundane public health improvements—like improvements in nutrition, hygiene, and sanitation—are also emergent. These improvements arise from the actions of individuals and entrepreneurs, often closely associated with voluntary consumption and markets. According to renowned medical scientist Thomas McKeown, that is, rising incomes encouraged voluntary changes in consumption, which helped improve nutrition, sanitation, and lowered mortality rates.7 These effects were especially pertinent for women and mothers as they often selected more nutritious food and altered household sanitation practices. With advancing ideas about germs, moreover, historian Nancy Tomes argues that private interests advanced the campaign to improve house-hold sanitation and nutrition—full of advice and advertisements in newspapers, magazines, manuals, and books.8 Following Tomes, economic historians Rebecca Stein and Joel Mokyr substantiate these ideas and show that people changed their hygiene, sanitation, house-hold cleaning habits, and diets as they learned more about germs.9 Such developments helped people to provide their desired exposure to germs according to their values.

Obviously, there were concerted public health improvements during this time that also explain falling mortality rates. For example, waterworks were conscious efforts to improve public health and were provided publicly and privately, with similar, positive effects on health.10 The point is that while we might be quick to connect the health improvements associated with a public water system, we should also recognize emergent responses like gradual changes in voluntary consumption.

Finally, social norms or rules that encourage preventative behavior might also be relevant kinds of emergent public health responses. Such rules identify behavior that should or should not be allowed, they are enforced in a decentralized way, and if they follow from the values of individuals in a community.11 If such rules pertain to public health, they can raise the cost of infectious behavior or the benefits of preventative behavior. Covering one’s mouth when sneezing is not only beneficial from a public health perspective, it also helps avoid earning disapproval.

The condom code during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic is another example of an emergent public health rule that reduced infectiousness by encouraging safer behavior.12 People who adopted safer sexual practices were seen to be doing the right thing—akin to taking care of a brother. People who refrained from adopting safer sexual practices were admonished. No single person or entity announced the rule; rather, it emerged from the actions and interactions of individuals within various communities to pursue their goals regarding maintaining sexual activity and limiting the spread of disease. Indeed, such norms were more effective in communities where people used their social capital resources to determine which behaviors should be changed and where they can more easily monitor and enforce infractions. This seems like a relevant factor where many gay men and men who have sex with men live in dense urban areas like New York and Los Angeles that foster LGBTQ communities.

Covid-19 provides additional examples where social norms encouraged the use of seemingly appropriate behavior, e.g., social distancing, the use of facemasks, and vaccination. Regardless of any formal rule in place, many people adapted their behavior because of social norms that encouraged social distancing, the use of facemasks, and vaccination. In communities that valued such behaviors, people that wore face masks and vaccinated were praised and were seen as doing the right thing; people that did not were viewed with scorn. Indeed, states and cities that have higher levels of social capital and higher values for public health tend to have higher Covid-19 vaccine uptakes.13

Improving Public Health and More

“Private approaches tend to lower the total costs of diseases and they limit externalities.”

While these private approaches can improve public health, can they do more than typical public health approaches cannot? Private approaches tend to lower the total costs of diseases and they limit externalities. Each aspect of private responses requires additional explanation.

Responding to infectious diseases and disease prevention is doubly challenging because not only do we have to worry about being sick, we also have to consider the costs imposed by our preventative behaviors and the rules we might impose. Thus, the total costs of an infectious disease include 1) the costs related to the disease—the pain and suffering of a disease and the opportunity costs of being sick—and 2) the costs associated with preventative and avoidance behavior. While disease costs are mostly self-explanatory, the costs of avoiding infection warrant more explanation. Self-isolation when you have a cold, for example, entails the loss of potentially valuable social activities; and wearing condoms to prevent sexually transmitted diseases forfeits the pleasures of unprotected sexual activity. Diseases for which vaccines and other medicines are available are less worrisome, perhaps, because these are diseases with lower prevention costs than diseases where those pharmaceutical interventions are not available. Governmental means of prevention also add relevant costs. Many readers might be familiar with the costs imposed by our private and public responses to Covid—from isolation to learning loss, and from sharp decreases in economic activity to increased rates of depression and spousal abuse.14 Long before Covid, moreover, people bemoaned wearing masks during the Great Flu,15 balked at quarantine against yellow fever,16 and protested bathhouse closings with the onset of HIV.17

Figure 1 shows the overall problem: diseases are harmful but our responses to those diseases might also be harmful.

Figure 1. The Excess Burden of Infectious Diseases

This figure follows Bhattacharya, Hyde, and Tu (2013) and Philipson (2000), who refer to the difference between total costs and disease costs as the excess burden of a disease. That is, excess burden depends on how severely we respond to a disease in private and in public. The excess burden associated with the common cold tends to be negligible as we bear the minor inconvenience of a fever, a sore throat perhaps, or a couple days off work; moreover, most people don’t go out of their way to avoid catching a cold. The excess burden of plague, however, is more complicated; not only are the symptoms much worse—and include death—people have more severe reactions. Note too that disease costs rise with prevalence and with worsening symptoms but eventually decline as more severe diseases tend to be less prevalent. Still, no one wants to be infected with a major disease, and severe precautions are likely. We might shun all social interactions, and we might use government to impose strict quarantine measures. As disease severity rises along the horizontal axis, it might be the case that the cure is worse than the disease.

The private responses indicated above all help to lower the total costs of a disease because people choose their responses and they use their local knowledge and available resources to select cheaper methods of prevention. Claghorn used her neighborhood connections and the social capital of her civics association to encourage homeowners to rid their yards of pools of water; as such she lowered the costs of producing mosquito control. Similarly, Gould used the organizational structure of his firm to hire experts in mosquito control and build a sanitation department. These are cheap methods to limit exposure to mosquitos.

Emergent responses also help to lower the total costs of a disease because such responses indicate the variety of choices people face and their ability to select cheaper options. People facing diseases like malaria might be able to move away and, for some, it is cheaper than alternative means of prevention. Many people now are able to limit their exposure to mosquitos with screens, improved dwellings, and air conditioning.18 Consider the variety of ways people can limit their exposure to sexually transmitted diseases like HIV. If some people would rather use condoms to limit HIV transmission, they are better off doing so than if they were to refrain from sexual activity altogether. Similarly, some people would be better off having relatively risky sexual activity if they were in monogamous relationships or if they knew about their partner’s sexual history. That people can choose their own preventative measures indicates lower total costs compared with blunt, one-rule-for-all, governmental public health responses.

Negative and positive externalities of spreadable diseases indicate too much infectious behavior and too little preventative behavior, respectively. Hosting a party is fun, but it also incurs the internal costs of the drinks and appetizers and, more importantly, perhaps the external costs of raising the probability that people get sick. Attending a local cafe can be relaxing, but you have to pay for a cup of coffee and you might also transmit a disease to other coffee drinkers. The same could be said for many other public and social activities that might spread diseases like attending a class or a basketball game, transporting goods and people, and sexual behaviors. Our preventative behaviors from taking a vaccine to covering your mouth and from isolation to engaging in safer sexual practices emits positive externalities. If left unchecked, negative and positive externalities lead to higher rates of infection.

Overall, we should continue to think more critically about delineating how private and public actors can improve public health and overall welfare. More importantly, we should recognize that private actors are more capable than we often realize, especially in light of conscious efforts to improve public health and those efforts that emerge from people’s actions and interactions. These private efforts might be better at advancing some public health goals than public actors do. Individuals, for example, have more access to local knowledge and can discover novel solutions that serve multiple ends—often ends they value—rather than the ends of distant officials. Such cases and possibilities indicate cheaper ways to improve public health.


[1] Smith (2009), Rationality in Economics: Constructivist and Ecological Forms, Cambridge University Press.

[2] For more on Walsh, see Carson (forthcoming), “Prevention Externalities: Private and Public Responses to the 1878 Yellow Fever Epidemic,” Public Choice.

[3] For more on Claghorn, see Carson (2020), “Privately Preventing Malaria in the United States, 1900-1925,” Essays in Economics and Business History.

[4] For more on Gould, see Carson (2016), “Firm-led Malaria Prevention in the United States, 1910-1920,” American Journal of Law and Medicine.

[5] On the connection between malarial diseases, dragons, and dragon-slaying saints, see Horden (1992), “Disease, Dragons, and Saints: the management of epidemics in the dark ages,” in Epidemics and Ideas by Ranger and Slack.

[6] For more on migration and prevalence rates, see Mesnard and Seabright (2016), “Migration and the equilibrium prevalence of infectious disease,” Journal of Demographic Economics.

[7] The American Journal of Public Health published several commentaries on McKeown in 2002:

[8] Tomes (1990), “The Private Side of Public Health: Sanitary Science, Domestic Hygiene, and the Germ Theory, 1870-1990,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine.

[9] Mokyr and Stein (1996), “Science, Health, and Household Technology: The Effect of the Pasteur Revolution on Consumer Demand,” in The Economics of New Goods, NBER.

[10] See Werner Troesken’s work on public and private waterworks in the U.S. around the turn of the 20th century. See Galiani, Gertler, and Shargrodsky (2005), “Water for Life,” Journal of Political Economy.

[11] Brennan et al., (2013), Explaining Norms, Oxford University Press.

[12] For more on the condom code, see Carson (2017), “The Informal Norms of HIV Prevention: The emergence and erosion of the condom code,” Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics.

[13] Carilli, Carson, and Isaacs (2022), “Jabbing Together? The complementarity between social capital, formal public health rules, and covid-19 vaccine rates in the U.S.,” Vaccine.

[14] Leslie and Wilson, “Sheltering in Place and Domestic Violence: Evidence from Calls for Service During Covid-19.” Journal of Public Economics 189, 104241. Mulligan, “Deaths of Despair and the Incidence of Excess Mortality in 2020,” NBER, Betthauser, Bach-Mortensen, and Engzell, “A systematic review and meta-analysis of the evidence on learning during the Covid-19 Pandemic,” Nature Human Behavior,

[15] On the great influenza epidemic, see CBS News, “During the 1918 Flu pandemic, masks were controversial for ‘many of the same reasons they are today’.” Oct. 30, 2020.

[16] On yellow fever quarantine in Mississippi, see Deanne Nuwer (2009), Plague Among the Magnolias: The 1878 Yellow Fever Epidemic in Mississippi.

[17] On these closures, see Trout (2021), “The Bathhouse Battle of 1984.”

[18] Tusting et al. (2017), “Housing Improvement and Malaria Risk in Sub-Saharan Africa: a multi-country analysis of survey data.” PLOS Medicine.

*Byron Carson is an Associate Professor of Economics and Business at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, where he teaches courses on introductory economics, money and banking, health economics, and urban economics. Byron earned his Ph.D. in Economics from George Mason University in 2017, and his research interests include economic epidemiology, public choice, and Austrian economics.

This article was edited by Features Editor Ed Lopez.


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