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Swine flu doomsayers taking a fallback position

By Michael Fumento

With the faux "pandemic" not panning out, a position I'm seeing more and more among the doomsayers is essentially: "Regardless that swine flu isn't proving worse than seasonal flu, and regardless that it may just be milder than seasonal flu, for some individuals it can be quite bad."

I heard that from a CDC spokesman and you can see it in this New Scientist article, "Don't be fooled: swine flu still poses a deadly threat," which states, "While H1N1 mostly causes mild disease, some people - estimates suggest fewer than 1 per cent - become deathly ill, very fast."

And how does that make it any different from seasonal flu?

What if NHTSA predicted 100,000 traffic fatalities this year instead of about 40,000 and then when fatalities actually started coming in at a rate below even 40,000 declared, "Don't be fooled. Some of those accidents are really severe!" You wouldn't be overly impressed, would you?

Especially telling is The New Scientist quoting an intensive care expert at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. "These were the sickest people I've ever seen," says Anand Kumar.

No, Dr. Kumar, the sickest people you've ever seen are the ones who died.

September 30, 2009 09:48 AM  ·  Permalink  ·  Swine Flu

Swinenewsflash! 21,000 college students missing!

By Michael Fumento

"Twenty-one thousand college students are sick," begins a Fox online news report titled: "H1N1 Picks Up Steam One Week Before Vaccine Becomes Available." Wow! That's a lot of sick kids! Tell us more!

panicbutton

But there is nothing more on those 21,000. Lots of talk about people swamping emergency rooms and school closings, yet not a single number regarding actual flu cases in a 765-word article.

What if it began "Flying saucers land on the White House lawn" and no flying saucers were mentioned again? And no, Fox fans, I'm not picking on your favorite network. Lots of people are tossing that number around; I just stumbled upon the Fox piece first.

Turns out the data are from the American College Health Association (ACHA) and are cumulative since August 22. So unless we assume that everybody who got the flu five weeks ago still has it, it's hardly the snapshot implied by the present tense "are" and is worthless in determining whether the bug is "picking up steam" or "petering out."

And the truly nifty thing about cumulative cases is they never go down. So next week they can use a higher figure and the week after a still higher one. Let's play that with other diseases. "100 million Americans have cancer!" Or maybe, "10 million kids have polio!"

Cumulative figures are also useless for determining what's happening right now - which is what this article and all the other scare stories are supposedly about. Nevertheless, the ACHA figures for the latest week at this writing show a 15% increase. Not exactly the end of the world, and in part it reflects that more institutions were reporting than the week before. Still, the increase for this week may prove much higher.

This is how you play the game, kids. But I'm guessing there are a lot of exhausted emergency room workers, along with truly ill patients being pushed aside by the worried well, who don't really enjoy it.

September 29, 2009 10:29 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Media ~ Swine Flu

Weekly flu watch - What swine flu ISN'T doing this week

By Michael Fumento

Every Friday the CDC website publishes a situation update on swine flu with figures updated through the previous week, though some of the data is newer. And every week the hysteria-minded media ignore it. Statistics get in the way of articles filled with doom and gloom, of body bags and cemetery land set asides.

Anyway, why consult the data when you can offer plenty of anecdotes about people suffering from a "flu-like illness?"

But for those who do care about how our alleged pandemic is progressing, I will begin herewith to provide a weekly summary.

Total deaths since August 30 from "Influenza and Pneumonia-Associated" illness generally are 936, but only 114 of those have been laboratory-confirmed as being flu of any type. And yes, people do die of pneumonia from many causes other than flu.

flu visits
FEAR FACTOR: The red line indicates emergency room and walk-in clinic visits from persons in 2009 who think they have the flu. The other colors are previous years.

The CDC no longer separately tracks swine flu cases or deaths. However, the FluTracker website does, and as of today lists 136, 268 confirmed U.S. cases with 644 confirmed fatalities.

By comparison, the CDC estimates 36,000 Americans die annually of seasonal flu, or about 257 per day during the season of approximately 140 days.

The number of positive tests for swine flu is down this week, notwithstanding all those articles you've been reading about how swine flu is finally taking off. You can see the data here.

A word of caution, though. Those are reports from a sentinel system of laboratories. It's possible the laboratories were overwhelmed with specimens and simply couldn't keep up with the samples doctors forwarded to them.

But, the percentage of samples proving positive barely increased, from 22.55% to 23.87%.

Another way of looking at it is that over three-fourths of samples that even doctors (much less scared patients) suspect may show swine flu do not.

That's one indicator of hysteria.

Another is that even though the number of actual flu detections tested is down, the percentage of visits to outpatient clinics by people who think they have the flu continues to rise. In fact, if you look at the curve it's been practically shooting straight up for the past four weeks.

But apparently nobody but me has been looking at the data. Turns out that if you click on the link to take you to the underlying numbers, they're four weeks behind the figures in the chart. The CDC press office didn't even know about this until I asked. What does that tell you?

Finally, deaths from influenza and pneumonia are well within the normal bounds for this time of year.

So visits to emergency rooms and other outpatient facilities from people afraid they have the flu are way up while infections are apparently down. I don't call it "pandemic panic over a piglet" for nothing.

September 25, 2009 06:10 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Diseases (other than AIDS and cancer) ~ Swine Flu

Enviros trying to wipe out soft toilet paper!

By Michael Fumento

Okay, this time they've gone too far!

Now, says the Washington Post, environmentalists are trying to wipe out plush toilet paper!

They say that's because plush U.S. toilet paper is usually made from older trees - though not what's defined as "old growth" by any means. And older trees, they say, are better for absorbing carbon dioxide and thereby slowing global warming.

(Have you noticed that there's nothing that can't be tied into global warming?)

They want us Americans to wipe with the same stuff Europeans use, made from recycled paper goods.

Well, I've been to Europe a lot and while I'm no xenophobe I must say their toilet paper is just one grade above sandpaper. No, ifs, ands, or butts about it.

They'll get my soft toilet paper when they pry it from my cold dead hands!

(Though I really don't want to be found dead sitting on "the throne" . . . )

September 24, 2009 10:40 AM  ·  Permalink  ·  Environment ~ Fun ~ Global Warming

Panic-monger Laurie Garrett has swine flu!

By Michael Fumento

Or so she says in her Newsweek essay "Surviving Swine Flu." And she admits it actually hasn't been diagnosed.

But it's definitely swine flu. No doubt she's coughing, sneezing, and has an incredible urge to roll around in the mud.

She is, she says, "an early victim of what will likely be an enormous American pandemic."

Garrett became famous by predicting the Ebola pandemic. Remember that? Well, there wasn't exactly one. It never left the few countries it was afflicting in Africa and then disappeared even there.

And the massive death toll from SARS she predicted? Came out to about a day's worth of flu victims.

But then there was the avian flu, which she predicted could kill a third of the earth's population!

Oops.

So now she's on to swine flu, noting that Newsweek gave her its cover to blare the same old message she's been blaring since 1992.

And she'll be wrong again.

And you know what? The media won't care a bit.

As we've seen before with such types as Paul Ehrlich, being wrong even more often than a stopped clock never stopped anyone from being an "expert."

September 23, 2009 08:53 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Swine Flu

Choice hate mail from a doctor I disgraced on national radio

By Michael Fumento

"Mr. Fumento:

"Somehow you think you know better than everybody else because of your publications and media appearances. [Which he got from my website.] I never even heard of you before today. As much as it hurts your incredible ego, neither have the vast majority of people."

My response:

"Thank you for informing me of what the 'vast majority of people' know. From now on I'll skip the pollsters and just go straight to you.

"You also may not have heard of the moon, but that probably says a lot more about you than it does the moon."

September 23, 2009 08:47 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Humor

Pandemic panic calls for . . . Obamacare!

By Michael Fumento

The current issue of Time magazine informs us

Pandemic diseases have a way of revealing our vulnerabilities in quick order. Already we have been humbled by the virus's exploitation of our fragmented health-care system, as families without insurance overwhelm emergency rooms, schools flounder without nurses, and people without a sick-leave option choose between going to work with a raging fever or getting fired. At the University of Washington, some 2,000 students have reported having H1N1 symptoms. At Emory University in Atlanta, sick kids are relocated to a dorm dubbed Club Swine.

Only universal health care - especially as proposed by the Obama administration - could have prevented this catastrophe!

Except that probably few of those students actually have the flu, but rather those ubiquitous "flu-like symptoms" stoked by panic purveyors like, well, Time magazine.

September 23, 2009 08:20 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Swine Flu

Breaking news! Fumento exaggerates swine flu!

By Michael Fumento

Sorry, nobody's perfect.

In a previous blog I stated:

Here we see a graph line of doctor visits for people claiming to have "flu-like" symptoms. It's practically going straight up.

Right.

Then I added, "But here we see hospitalizations for confirmed cases of influenza broken down by age categories. The lines are essentially flat."

Wrong.

There was a better graph and chart providing numbers behind the graph that actually showed swine flu cases in U.S. had been decreasing.

Cases down; panic up. What's new?

September 23, 2009 01:38 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Swine Flu

Pandemic hysteria blast from the past

By Michael Fumento

While researching the World Health Organization's campaign to grotesquely exaggerate the swine flu threat, I came across this little gem from a 1990 edition of the New York Times. "Eight to ten million people around the world are now infected with the virus that causes AIDS, and the incidence of the infection is rising dramatically in some parts of the world, the World Health Organization reports."

Scary stuff!

Too bad the Grey Lady neglected to mention that just four years earlier the WHO had predicted that by 1990 there would be 50 to 100 million infections.

Isn't it nice to know some things never change?

September 19, 2009 01:35 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  AIDS ~ Swine Flu

A graphic (literally) view of swine flu panic

By Michael Fumento

From the CDC:

Here we see a graph line of doctor visits for people claiming to have "flu-like" symptoms. It's practically going straight up.

But here we see hospitalizations for confirmed cases of influenza broken down by age categories. The lines are essentially flat.

Finally, the daily count bar chart at FluTracker shows no more cases being reported now than a month ago, and far fewer than a couple of weeks ago.

Fewer cases; far more "flu-like" symptoms.

Point made.

September 18, 2009 11:45 AM  ·  Permalink  ·  Swine Flu

Too, too much about Rep. Joe Wilson's heckle

By Michael Fumento

Gee, and I thought August was supposed to be the slow news month.

"Joe Wilson is racist!" Why? Pres. Obama is black. Well, in the U.S. he is. That's a result of slave laws and the so-called "one drop rule." In any other country he'd be called mulatto - as white as he is black.

But okay, in this country he's called black. Wilson is white. Ergo, Wilson is racist right? Maybe. But you don't establish a pattern with one reference point.

Then you get the people who defend Wilson because, they say, Obama did lie.

Then you get the people who say Wilson is wrong because, they say, Obama didn't lie.

And then there are those who say it's arguable whether he lied or not, and go into a DEEP discussion of the merits of the accusation, but ultimately conclude Wilson shouldn't have done it.

I think even the last category is missing the mark.

No you're not going to get a 700-word column out of this, but here's all it comes down to. Wilson didn't show disrespect for Pres. Obama, be he black, mulatto or a shade of purple. He showed disrespect for the Office of the President.

It's that simple.

September 16, 2009 09:20 AM  ·  Permalink  ·  Politics ~ Racial Discrimination

Heil condomania!

By Michael Fumento

Condomania, which I first criticized back in 1987, still lives.

IDIMAGE
"AIDS funkionert besser wie Zyklon B, nicht wahr Fraulein!"

A German "AIDS awareness" group is under fire for posting an online video that begins with a young couple having sex in an apartment before revealing the male to be a grinning Adolf Hitler. A heterosexual couple, naturally.

Its closing message: "AIDS is a mass murderer."

Other ads will feature Josef Stalin and Saddam Hussein.

So not "wearing a sheath on your John Thomas," as the Brits would say, is sort of like killing six million Jews? Doch ja!

With reality like this, how can satirical publications like The Onion stay in business much longer?

September 9, 2009 10:15 AM  ·  Permalink  ·  AIDS

Mass outbreak of "suspected" swine flu!

By Michael Fumento

"U-Md. Reports Dozens of Flu Cases," declared the Washington Post headline.

But while the story began, "The University of Maryland has 64 cases of suspected swine flu" it concludes, "The U-Md. health center is not testing students to confirm H1N1 infection, because the course of treatment is the same as with regular seasonal flu, said Beth Cavanaugh, university spokeswoman."

And with each "suspected case" leading to many more "suspected cases," we're going to have a really epidemic of suspected swine flu cases on our hands.

September 6, 2009 04:32 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Media ~ Swine Flu

Swine flu's no baby killer

By Michael Fumento

By yet another measure, there's nothing extraordinary about swine flu except the way a virus is being exploited for political reasons and to shore up sagging circulation figures. Just-released CDC figures indicate all of 36 swine flu deaths in children under age five.

How does that compare to seasonal flu?

"During the 2003-04, 2004-05, 2005-06, and 2006-07 seasons, a total of 153, 47, 46, and 73 pediatric deaths were reported through the influenza-associated pediatric mortality reporting system, respectively," says the report in the agency publication MMWR. The disproportion would be far greater if they tracked seasonal flu deaths with anything like the effort and accuracy with which they've been tracking those from swine flu.

Further, "28 of the 36 children whose deaths were associated with [swine flu] were in at least one of two groups previously found to be at increased risk for complications from seasonal influenza," says the CDC.

Yes, 36 toddler swine flu deaths are still 36 tragedies. But no, they're not greater tragedies than when those deaths come ordinary flu or anything else for that matter.

September 5, 2009 07:10 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Swine Flu

My NYPost piece, Waxman-Markey - $10 Trillion for Nothing

By Michael Fumento

As I write in the New York Post, the Waxman-Markey climate legislation could cost the nation nearly $10 trillion -- while doing virtually nothing to stop warming.

That's because to the extent it would reduce warming at all it would do so through limiting "greenhouse gas" emissions, but yet another study has questioned just how much such gases contribute to warming.

According to this one, published in the American Geophysical Union's official publication, the Journal of Geophysical Research, "We have shown that internal global-climate-system variability accounts for at least 80 percent of the observed global-climate variation over the past half-century."

And that's not to say the rest is due to greenhouse gases, either.

We know that there has been NO warming over the last decade, even as the world has been belching GHGs in greater amounts than ever. At the very least this calls into question the equation of "more greenhouse gases equals more warming." It's neither mathematical nor scientific - merely ideological.

But why would people be so keen on horribly expensive legislation that may not even perceptibly reduce temperatures? Lots of reasons, actually. But here's one, and I've linked to a video clip: At a British forum on July 7, Al Gore crowed that Waxman-Markey is a step toward "global governance." Woo-hoo - world government!

Too bad if you're not sure that's such a hot thing.

September 4, 2009 12:14 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Global Warming

President's Council Swine Flu House of Cards (my piece in today's Philly Inquirer)

By Michael Fumento

To a grand media reception, the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology issued a paper giving as a "plausible scenario" 30,000 - 90,000 U.S. swine flu deaths, with a peak before Americans would have a chance to get vaccine immunity.

It's pork baloney, as I write in today's Philadelphia Inquirer.

Although this shortened version of my original piece no longer contains it, the CDC has refused to support that figure. For good reason.

The report is based on three layer of cards. If anyone one doesn't hold, everything comes tumbling down. None hold against scientific evidence. The layers:

1. An epidemic peaking in October than infects 150 million Americans. BUT that's just six weeks away, meaning about 2 million infections a day between now and then. Yet it took FIVE MONTHS to reach the first 2 million infections.

2. Vastly more Americans will be infected with swine flu than seasonal flu because swine flu is new to our immune systems. BUT it's not new. It's subtype H1N1. That subtype has been circulating since 1977. We've had exposure for decades to something that our immune systems recognize.

3. Swine flu is as lethal as season flu. BUT all the data indicate it's far milder. Fresh statistics from New York City indicate it's a tenth to a 40th as lethal as seasonal flu.

CONCLUSION: The evidence is that the U.S. will have NO excess flu deaths this year and it's entirely possible we'll have fewer deaths than in a typical season. Why? Because swine flu seems to displace seasonal flu and it's milder. With a similar case number and lower mortality, we have fewer overall deaths.

September 2, 2009 09:14 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Swine Flu

ONE already-ill student MAY have died from swine flu so . . . PANIC!

By Michael Fumento

"Student's Flu Death Raises Concerns at Nation's Universities," blares the headline of a Fox News story.

Turns out the student hadn't even started classes and had a serious underlying health problem, MS. That condition is especially important, because MS is often treated with immunosuppressive drugs. Such people are always among those most at risk for any infectious disease. Now add that yearly 36,000 Americans die of seasonal flu. And believe it or not, sometimes they're college students.

Yet, "The death of a college student from the flu has raised the alarm at universities throughout the country as the nation gears up for what is predicted to be a brutal flu season," says the article, which is accompanied by a photo of a student wearing what is probably a useless mask to ward off the dreaded disease. The article adds that, "numerous institutions are reporting seeing scores of students with flu-like symptoms just one week into the fall semester."

Ah yes, those ubiquitous "flu-like symptoms." And each time a story like this appears, you'll get thousands more cases of "flu-like symptoms" among perfectly healthy people.

Want to avoid getting psychosomatic swine flu? Read my piece in today's Philadelphia Inquirer about the panic-promoting President's Council report.

September 2, 2009 04:59 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Swine Flu

On being a modern day Cassandra - or when scientific methodolgy hurts you

By Michael Fumento

The following is from an essay on why people love conspiracy theories:

The reality may be that all too many of us actually prefer to believe the fantastic over the mundane. Maybe the sky is falling, but isn't life also a bit more romantic with the nervous thrill that maybe the end really is at hand? And even if the sky isn't falling, aren't the nights more exciting with beings from other worlds buzzing around in them? These are exciting times for those who believe themselves to be living in the biblical "End Times," shortly to be called to do Apocalyptic battle with the forces of Satan. On a whole other level, a national poll reveals that some 70 percent of Americans do not believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. What the pollsters didn't ask was whether those 70 percent of Americans felt better believe that their president was killed by an elaborate conspiracy than by some isolated nut with a mail-order rifle and a head full of sour politics. If the lone nut could get the president, didn't that make life so random that anything could supposedly happen to anyone at any time? In the traumatic wake of the JFK assassination and the subsequent murders of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy, the concept of conspiracy offered a certain degree of chilly comfort. At least it possessed sufficiently evil stature to explain the pain.

Unfortunately, most people in our culture don't seek enlightenment in their daily reading. They seek either confirmation bias or entertainment, or better yet both together. The last thing they want is a simple explanation for a phenomenon, for example that Gulf vets are getting sick and dying for no other reason than that everybody gets sick and everybody dies and fact is Gulf vets are getting sick and dying at exactly the same rate as matched controls who didn't deploy.

And disasters are also entertaining. So if a presidential council says swine flu could kill as many as 90,000 Americans this year it's page A1 news. When I write that the evidence indicates we'll just have a typical flu season in terms of deaths, that's so BORE-ING. Important? Absolutely! But unless you're among the minority to whom enlightenment is exciting, such a piece may be considered dull, dull, dull.

It makes you a sort of modern-day Cassandra. People don't believe your predictions. And it's not because they're not based on solid science but, to a great extent because they are based on solid science. Solid science just isn't what they're looking for.

Study shows how swine flu may LOWER flu deaths

By Michael Fumento

The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology got lots of press with its report giving a "plausible scenario" of as many as 90,000 deaths this fall and winter from swine flu. But new research and actual flu data from Australia indicate we could be in for a milder flu season than normal precisely because of swine flu.

Posted on PLoS Currents: Influenza, a Web site operated by the Public Library of Science to rapidly share scientific flu information, the study in which ferrets were infected with both swine flu H1N1 virus and the seasonal H1N1 found that the swine version spread far more efficiently. In essence, it outcompetes seasonal flu H1N1.

That's being shown even now in Australia. Being south of the equator, it's having its flu season now and the government is indeed reporting swine flu "appears to be replacing the current seasonal H1N1 virus."

But with no swine flu vaccine and swine flu cases having peaked in July, the government is reporting an epidemic not discernibly worse than in recent years. How could this be?

Simple. As I've noted repeatedly in my articles and blogs, all evidence is that swine flu is less severe than seasonal flu. Therefore, let's connect those dots. To the extent that swine flu replaces seasonal flu (and indeed becomes the seasonal flu) and is milder, there will be fewer deaths.

Lots of reporters have written about the PLoS study, yet don't expect any to draw this conclusion. It doesn't fit the "we're all gonna die" paradigm.

I have a full-length piece on the President's Council report due out tomorrow.

September 1, 2009 01:13 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Swine Flu

Send him to the HIV/AIDS sensitivity re-education camp!

By Michael Fumento

Letter to the editor, Washington Post, September 1, 2009

HIV/AIDS Isn't A Shared Risk

Regarding the Aug. 29 Metro article "District Launches HIV-Test Campaign":

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty was quoted as saying, "Everybody is at risk" regarding HIV/AIDS.

Really? Everything I have learned about HIV/AIDS is that it can be avoided with some common sense. The message that we're all at risk contradicts the facts of how this disease is spread. HIV/AIDS education apparently has a long way to go.

The only thing "we're all at risk" for is continuously having our tax dollars spent on programs that ignore the truth and cater to people who live a dangerous lifestyle.

THOMAS CHRISTOPHER

Ashburn

September 1, 2009 12:15 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  AIDS