Keeping up with the FITs, No. 11

On the issue of vaccinating young children for Covid, Emily Oster writes,

In the adult COVID trials, the most important outcomes measured were COVID illness (serious illness, hospitalization, death). This outcome is not considered in the pediatric trials because it is too rare even among the unvaccinated group of children. 

But she says that she would vaccinate her own children.

I do not want them to get COVID. I am worried about their immune-compromised grandparent. I would like to avoid quarantine and keep them in school. I’m confident in the vaccines and the FDA process.

I would arrive at a different decision. The benefit seems small, almost negligible in the grand scheme of things. Although it is likely that the long-term risks of the vaccine are small, we do not know this. I say leave the kids alone.

Speaking of being contrary, Russ Roberts does a great job of playing Devil’s Advocate in his interview with Noreena Hertz on her claim that social media has increased loneliness. He worries about the measurement instrument. But she replies convincingly.

around one in five American millennials say that they don't have a single friend at all.

There is much more back-and-forth in the podcast. They almost have a hard time ending on a mutually satisfying note.

Richard Hanania got to interview Steven Pinker. Pinker says,

most people, most of the time are rational about their day-to-day lives, about holding a job and getting the kids to school on time. They have to be. We live in a world of cause and effect and not of magic. So if you want to keep food in the fridge or gas in the car, you pretty much have to be rational.

But then when it comes to beliefs like cosmic, metaphysical beliefs, beliefs about what happened in the distant past and the unknowable future, in remote halls of power that we’ll never set foot in, there people don’t particularly care about whether their beliefs are true or false, because for most people and for most times in our history you couldn’t know anyway. So your beliefs might as well be based on what’s empowering, what’s uplifting, what’s inspiring, what’s a good story.

Hanania naturally replies

we come to the conclusion that they are being rational in being irrational

They spend time trying to address this conundrum, as well as on other issues. Set aside time to read the transcript or listen to the interview.

Pinker’s new book is out, and I have just started it.

Finally, Glenn Loury and John McWhorter discuss why the issue of police shootings of black men became so prominent. McWhorter says

it distracted from what could have been a whole new mood about race. I think we were on that path in ‘08 and ‘09. And then in ‘09, everybody gets on Twitter and Facebook. It was those years. And by ‘12, something can happen in Sanford, Florida and it becomes a national phenomenon that no one would have heard of outside of Sanford, Florida if it weren't for the new media. And that's also true of Michael Brown. It just wouldn't have had that impact.

Loury agrees, but he argues that President Obama could have changed the direction of the conversation.

I see it as a failure of the former president Obama, having been presented with an opportunity to lead the country, not just to perform his shtick. To lead the country in a time of peril by standing up for law and order. He should have done that.

He should have given Trump-like speeches about people getting their asses off the street and into their homes, about them attacking police officers: “We're going to find out who you are with facial recognition. We're going to hunt you down.” About them looting and arsoning. There's no excuse for it. When the stepfather of Michael Brown stands on top of a car and says, “Burn this bitch down,” the President of the United States should have been seeing about having him indicted for the incitement to violence.

Loury sees a huge gap between what Mr. Obama could have been and what he actually turned out to be. McWhorter is more restrained. It’s quite a dialog.