This Conversation is Real!

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People sometimes wonder why I no longer practice law. This article from the American Bar Association does a pretty good job of explaining how thoroughly two people can manage not to communicate.

I’ll just quote a few bits to give you the general gist of it. To wit:

A New York University law professor who argued estimates of potential coronavirus deaths are exaggerated, partly because the virus may weaken over time, sparred with a New Yorker reporter in a Q&A interview.

Um … okay. Is this law professor a scientist? A doctor? A researcher? Um …

Libertarian-minded law professor Richard Epstein laid out his theory in a March 16 article posted by the Hoover Institution, report the New Yorker and Above the Law. The article circulated among conservatives close to President Donald Trump and several administration officials, according to the Washington Post.

When you see what he thinks, it’s pretty weird.

“At some tipping point,” Epstein wrote, “the most virulent viruses will be more likely to kill their hosts before the virus can spread. In contrast, the milder versions of the virus will wreak less damage to their host and thus will survive over the longer time span needed to spread from one person to another. Hence the rate of transmission will trend downward, as will the severity of the virus. It is a form of natural selection.”

Oh … so it’s a Darwinian thing then?

Epstein cautioned that his analysis could be “all wrong, even deeply flawed. But the stakes are too high to continue on the current course without reexamining the data and the erroneous models that are predicting doom.”

So … this law professor (who may or may not have scientific expertise) just says this stuff and these periodicals and one blog just report the reports of the theory. Or something like that?

Epstein originally predicted there would be 500 COVID-19 deaths in the United States, then revised the estimate to 5,000.

Yes. His analysis was “all wrong, even deeply flawed.”

Anyway, the New Yorker interviewed two experts, Yale epidemiology professor Albert Ko, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases Daniel Kuritzkes, who disputed Epstein’s claims. The interview reads like a deposition gone completely off the rails wrong.

Here’s their actual conversation! Quoting from said article:

Epstein appeared angered when the New Yorker reporter asked whether he should be “careful about offering up these theories” about scientific issues.

“You know nothing about the subject but are so confident that you’re going to say that I’m a crackpot,” Epstein told the reporter, Isaac Chotiner. This is the exchange that followed:

Epstein: That’s what you’re saying, isn’t it? That’s what you’re saying?

Chotiner: I’m not saying anything of the sort.

Epstein: Admit to it. You’re saying I’m a crackpot.

Chotiner: I’m not saying anything of the-

Epstein: Well, what am I then? I’m an amateur? You’re the great scholar on this?

Chotiner: No, no. I’m not a great scholar on this.

Epstein: Tell me what you think about the quality of the work!

Chotiner: OK, I’m going to tell you. I think the fact that I am not a great scholar on this, and I’m able to find these flaws or these holes in what you wrote is a sign that maybe you should’ve thought harder before writing it.

Epstein: What it shows is that you are a complete intellectual amateur. Period.

Chotiner: OK. Can I ask you one more question?

Epstein: You just don’t know anything about anything. You’re a journalist. Would you like to compare your resumé to mine?

Chotiner: No, actually, I would not.

Yeah. And people wonder.

I’d say someone needs help with their emotional IQ. 🙂

There’s an online test for that, you know!

Originally published at on April 25, 2020.

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