Contrarian

Experts inside YouTube ride roughshod over medical opinion

Erickson

The video of Bakersfield-based microbiology experts, Drs Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi, discussing a contrarian view on COVID19 that YouTube took down is still available on this link.

In what world are we living where a video channel prioritises a groupthink generated political opinion that overrides medical experts who have based their findings on available hard data, not wildly inaccurate models? The video was taken down for a ‘violation of community standards.’ You can read the YouTube statement here.

We would understand this if the doctors had no medical training and were pushing wild conspiracy theories. They simply weren’t. All that happened was a sensible presentation of data coupled with opinions based on their background as microbiologists. They think the fears have been overblown.

If you listen to the dialogue, the hard data confirms what we had been saying about the statistics of the pandemic. The doctors compared the data of an open Sweden vs a closed Norway and concluded the data discrepancies of COVID19 were statistically insignificant.

Many of our readers know we are contrarians by nature. We are more curious about what we might be missing rather than just accepting what is commonly reported. When opinions support the data, it isn’t an exercise in confirmation bias. We are genuinely interested as to whether the arguments sound convincing enough to validate them. We are even more concerned when the other side of the debate seek to shut it down rather than expose the flaws in Erickson and Massihi’s thinking.

Is the dissenting view more widespread than the media given credit for? After all the data is a moving feast. We are learning about COVID19 on a daily basis so sticking to the thinking of 2 months ago may not be relevant if the course shifts. Why are governments setting fixed future dates? Why not open up when the data supports it? Hardly any science in politically driven decision making.

An ER doctor in Wisconsin confirmed Drs Erickson and Massihi’s view that it isn’t about science. He wondered why someone in a hazmat suit was taking his temperature when there were next to no patients inside, something that is borne out by the data with so many beds available. Should we fear politics more than the pandemic?

Are governments following a herd mentality which uses poorly interpreted data as opposed to considering herd immunity based on medical science? The economic fallout will likely be way worse than any impacts of the virus itself. As we wrote earlier this week, governments carry zero responsibility for their actions because they can hide behind telling us it was for our own good. We bear the lot in terms of consequences. A terrible equation.

We believe that groupthink is the more dangerous pathogen in society. Whether financial crises or topics such as climate change, dissenting voices have repeatedly been terminated, especially by media outlets. Surely if the data sits with the prevailing sentiment, why not pick the bones out of Erickson and Massihi’s statement and debunk it with more prescient facts? In what world does it help to suppress information? Defeat data with data. This is why we remain contrarians.

The medical discussion surrounding the live clinical data of Erickson and Massihi makes plausible sense. We have all grown up learning that a baby gnawing a dog lead helps its body work out how to fight future infections. The doctors argue that keeping people locked down decreases one’s immunity to fight against COVID19.

The Bakersfield doctors believe that preventing the body from being able to combat coronavirus by not being exposed to it could have the opposite of the intended effect when people start to mingle again. Many people may not even know they have it. So when those people who caught it in a supermarket could restart the process. Does the government return to lockdown again and restart the negative loop?

These doctors claimed to have done the majority of testing for Kern County, California. The data backs up what is being experienced around the world positive test rates for infection are far higher than what is being reported but the death rates are way lower. Having said that, these two owners of seven clinics noted (some might argue somewhat selfishly) that the amount of people getting tested is way lower than their installed capacity. Irrational fear has been keeping people away. Then we are surprised when the natives get restless?

The two doctors recommend putting kids back into school. Slowly reopen other businesses and eventually sporting venues. The doctors questioned how it is OK to go to Costco but not a small cafe. It is reverse logic. There is a far higher exposure in a large business than a local cafe.

The adverse economic impacts don’t match the behaviour of the coronavirus in their opinion. Until a vaccine is found, the human body has the best chance of defeating it. Erickson and Massihi argued that 94% of the people recorded as dying from coronavirus had comorbidities – heart failure, immunodeficiencies, HIV etc. The death toll related to COVID19 alone is a speck.

The doctors added that there has been a sharp rise in domestic violence, child abuse, suicide, depression or mental health issues during the stay home orders. The campaign of fear exacerbated by the media is viewed as a far bigger problem than the coronavirus itself. Massihi suggested that people are becoming afraid to see the doctor for completely non-virus related reasons for fear of catching COVID19 by going to seek medical help. He argued that someone with symptoms of appendicitis avoiding the doctor for fear of contracting coronavirus may die of sepsis.

We don’t pretend to be doctors for a second. We offer no medical opinions here. We merely question why a social media channel decides it knows better than medical experts?

We understand a private business has the freedom to act in ways it sees as best for shareholders, but this seems far more sinister –  using its power to shut down free speech. Perhaps the doctors should sue YouTube for violating their first amendment rights. If there was ever a need for control over media censorship, this makes a great test case.

146,000 Tesla Cybertruck orders

Wow. As written yesterday, CM thought Cybertruck would sell. Not as well as this though. In the $100bn domestic pick-up market Musk went big and it seems it will payoff. Whether all 146,000 (likely to be more going forward) end up being fulfilled is another question. Tesla will need more capital to get there but with an order book, he has bought more time.

It was intriguing that the normal $1000 fully refundable deposit for his cars was only $100 for the Cybertruck, a shrewd bit of marketing which essentially turned it into a virtually free option to put one’s name down. One wonders whether he bumps it up now he has these orders under the belt to help with cash flow.

Credit where credit is due. Musk is a visionary. CM has now praised the Tesla CEO twice in 24-hrs. Must be a blue moon.

Obama solves climate change conundrum

https://youtu.be/fNrSEH4WVBw

E81AF6C9-59A1-4F4F-85F6-9C7BE5447CC7.jpeg

Obama has cut the Gordian Knot on climate change. Who knew?

“…the reason we don’t [invest in climate change policies] is because we are still confused, blind, shrouded with hate, anger, racism – mommy issues…”

Call me a sceptic, but even if I believe that 97% of scientists were correct on climate change, I should be more intrigued why the 3% don’t agree. Could I be missing something? After all 97% of economists believed it was a new paradigm right before the GFC almost sent us back to the financial Stone Age.

Perhaps Mr Obama should check the following study from Professor Valentina Zharkova. It might not be racism.

She explains and confirms why a “Super” Grand Solar Minimum is upon us:

Principia Scientific wrote,

Professor  Zharkova gave a presentation of her Climate and the Solar Magnetic Field hypothesis at the Global Warming Policy Foundation in October, 2018. Even if you believe the IPCC’s worst case scenario, Zharkova’s analysis blows any ‘warming’ out of the water.

Lee Wheelbarger sums it up: even if the IPCC’s worst case scenarios are seen, that’s only a 1.5 watts per square meter increase. Zharkova’s analysis shows a 8 watts per square meter decrease in total solar irradiance (TSI) to the planet.

The information she unveiled should shake/wake you up. Zharkova was one of the few that correctly predicted solar cycle 24 would be weaker than cycle 23 – only 2 out of 150 models predicted this. Her models have run at a 93% accuracy and her findings suggest a SuperGrand Solar Minimum is on the cards beginning 2020 and running for 350-400 years.

The last time we had a little ice age only two magnetic fields of the sun went out of phase. This time, all four magnetic fields are going out of phase. 
Would you ignore the 1 in 75 contrarian view whose model has predicted accurately or the 74 in 75 that have missed? It’s probably just racists with mommy issues that’s to blame…After all if Obama says it’s true, it must be right. Right?

Thoughts for the day – Group think, crypto and taxi drivers

6FE1E60D-D240-464D-AB5A-E4305B63F7E6

It is important to challenge convention. I have had countless questions from people on bitcoin and crypto lately. Sort of reminded me of the above. Perhaps the golden rule of investing doesn’t lie in complex models and sci-fi scenario analysis but the simple question of whenever an overwhelming majority think something is great, it is time to take the opposing view and vice versa. I haven’t been in a taxi yet to confirm Bitcoin is overdone. As I put it – gold needs to be dug out of the ground with effort. The thing that spooks me about crypto (without trying to sound conspiracy theorist) is that state actors (most top end computer science grads in China end up working in the country’s cyber warfare teams), hackers or criminal minds (did you know 70% of top end computer science grads in Russia end up working for the mob (directly or indirectly) the value of coins in the system could be instantaneously wiped out at the stroke of a key. We’ve had small hiccups ($280m) only last week. So as much as the ‘security’ of these crypto currencies is often sold as bulletproof, none of them are ‘cyberproof’.

Think of why your Norton, Kaspersky or Trend Micro anti-virus software requires constant upgrading to prevent new threats trying to exploit new vulnerabilities in systems. We need only go back to the Stuxnet virus of 2010 which was installed inside computers controlling uranium centrifuges in Iran. The operators had no idea. The software told the brain of the centrifuges to spin at multiples faster than design spec could handle all the while the computer interface of the operators showed everything normal. After a while the machines melted down causing the complete destruction of the centrifuges which were controlled from a remote location.

So much in life is simple. Yet we have lawyers writing confusing sentences that carry on for pages and pages, politicians complicating simple tasks, oil companies trying to convince us their additives are superior to others and so on. The reality is we just have to ask ourselves that one question from Mark Twain,

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.

The beauty of honesty

A3DCAABE-D864-4D34-AEFF-CC75DC64743D

The above quote is from quirky fund manager Dr Michael Burry MD towards the end of the movie, The Big Short. It says so much of today. One mate who is a very decent asset manager in Australia wrote to his clients, “I realise such may fly in the face of typical adviser recommendations (show me how someone is paid and I’ll show you how they will behave) however, I would rather lose a client than lose a client’s capital.

We share similar views on the state of the global capital markets. We joked about his long message to his investors sounding like Jerry Maguire burning the midnight oil writing the “fewer clients, less money” manifesto which got him sacked.

Now that our world is moving further and further toward automated everything including pre-emptive responses (which I scoffed out the other day about LinkedIn) it is truly refreshing to see this authentic honesty. The irony is that as much as machines are pushing us into ever tighter time windows, humans instinctively carry long term memory whether trauma or positive life events.

May your honesty be paid back in spades when those you saved a bundle recall your genuine gesture.

Storing the Fukushima nuclear waste

IMG_9846.JPG

Scattered throughout Fukushima prefecture are some 5.5mn black bags containing soil contaminated by the crippled reactors. This picture is on the outskirts of the exclusion zone. To put it in perspective this is what it looks like from the air. They now have huge black tarpaulins draping over them to keep it dry.

IMG_9905

Most of the ‘unusable land’ has been converted into waste dumps like this or solar parks. Cars with flashing blue lights waft slowly around the neighborhoods to prevent theft and looting from deserted homes.

Even driving into Sendai some 100km+ north the highways have radiation level information alongside speed limit signs. A reminder of that terrible event 6 years ago which was highly preventable had the money been spent on relatively low cost sensible placement of the back up generators (in the $10s of millions) on high ground. It was forgone because the plant was scheduled for closure 6 months after the quake. The idea was that the risks of a tsunami or quake were so negligible that penny-pinching was the right thing to do. Of course PM Kan refused to give the order to release the presssure inside the reactors against the advice of nuclear experts. The clean up is in the 100s of billions. Go figure.

IMG_9906.JPG

Fukushima City feels dead. It is a long way from the reactor but unsurprisingly infamous for one thing now. As I mentioned a few weeks ago I’m guessing the government will turn up investment projects to revitalize it.

For a good video on the reactor check ABC’s Mark Willacy on Foreign Correspondent

The wisest investment is to ignore the professionals

contrarian

The sell-side is littered with highly paid experts that present us with rational explanations for their bullishness. However it is actually their lack of bearishness that is the problem. Looking over history the ratio of their sell recommendations on company research is highly inversely correlated with market movement. In the chart above we can see how far off the mark brokers are. When sell recommendations decline to all time lows, the market  tanks. Think back to 2008. We are now seeing the same ratio of low sell recommendations  we did just before Lehman went bust. The market is set to tank again. Maybe Brexit becomes a catalyst but it is not the cause.

Goes to show you that the brokers are worth keeping. It is only in that they stay consistently wrong that we can invest wisely. Keep up the good work.