“Namibia has some of the darkest nights visible from any continent. It is therefore home to some of the more spectacular skyscapes, a few of which have been captured in the below time-lapse video. We recommend watching this video at FULL SCREEN (1080p), with audio on. The night sky of Namibia is one of the best in the world, about the same quality of the deserts of Chile and Australia.
Visible at the movie start are unusual quiver trees perched before a deep starfield highlighted by the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy. This bright band of stars and gas appears to pivot around the celestial south pole as our Earth rotates. The remains of camel thorn trees are then seen against a sky that includes a fuzzy patch on the far right that is the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite galaxy to the Milky Way. A bright sunlight-reflecting satellite passes quickly overhead. Quiver trees appear again, now showing their unusual trunks, while the Small Magellanic Cloud becomes clearly visible in the background. Artificial lights illuminate a mist that surround camel thorn trees in Deadvlei. In the final sequence, natural Namibian stone arches are captured against the advancing shadows of the setting moon. This video incorporates over 16,000 images shot over two years, and won top honors among the 2012 Travel Photographer of the Year awards.”
"Life's funny, chucklehead. You only get one and you don't want to throw it away. But you can't really live it at all unless you're willing to give it up for the things you love. If you're not at least willing to die for something - something that really matters - in the end you die for nothing."
"I have a sacred relationship with sound. When certain types of music find their groove, I fall into a trance: My right foot taps into the rhythm, a smile carves across my face, my head begins to nod, and my eyes, at first, grow wide as they take in the surrounding imagery and then, at last, let themselves drop as the vibrations move through my body.
There is a certain completeness that I experience when this happens. For one, the subject-object dichotomy appears for what it is: a delicate creation of either the mind or the body. I cease to exist as a separate entity in my environment, shooting beyond my day to day self-centeredness, as I shine a light on the invisible threads that connect me to the world. On the other hand, this same subject-object dichotomy appears even more pronounced, highlighting the strange contradiction inherent in everything that I, otherwise, think of as true and beautiful.
I’ve long wondered why I respond differently to sound than I do words or visuals. To be sure, it’s not that reading a book or looking at a painting can’t evoke a similar experience. They can, and they do. It’s just that the depth of consciousness that I reach when I lose myself in music extends into a state of mind beyond the flow that I encounter in words and images.
There is, naturally, the fear, as I write this, that I’m being overly romantic, that my description of how I make sense of my relationship to music is more a post-event rationalization than it is an accurate encapsulation of what truly happens, but let’s play the game anyway. Let’s see where it takes us.
As a kid, if you had given me a math or a science test, that test would have been returned to you not too long after, all the questions completed as they should. If, on the other hand, you had asked me to create something, I would have failed; not only due to incompetence but also because I wouldn’t have tried. That’s not who I was.
To illustrate the difference, think about how a conscious experience works. In any moment, you, as a subject, will focus your attention on a particular part of reality, where there are various distinct objects in front of you. When doing a math test, you may objectify a triangle, a few numbers, and a question. On a creative assignment, you may instead have a pen and a blank paper.
Now, when it comes to the math test, all the information is already there. You just need to use your existing knowledge to connect those objects in a way that creates a certain answer. There is something that is clearly right; there is something that is clearly wrong. On a creative assignment, only some of the information is there, but you still have to use your existing knowledge to connect those objects, and this creates an important distinction: The lack of information means that there is no certain answer.
My thinking for most of my youth was logic-heavy. If I had a clear question with rigid boundaries to confine it, then finding a solution to anything was never a problem. As long as I knew what I was looking for, I could make sense of the objects in front of me, and I could connect them in a way that would lead to my preferred destination.
This love of certainty, however, did come at a cost. Much of my incompetence with creative tasks was borne from an identity that didn’t think of itself as creative because it couldn’t find a clear answer on the blank page. And when it couldn’t find a clear answer, it told itself that there was no truth there and that it wasn’t even worth looking.
My mistake was to see creativity as nothing more than a game, a kind of play, one that I didn’t need. Of course, play it is, but associating the lack of certainty that is inherent in any artistic creation with a lack of truth-value ignores the uncertain nature of reality, a reality in which what is most true is fluid and dynamic, a reality that transcends pure logic. As I’ve gotten older and more comfortable with this uncertainty, I have walked towards it, letting it pull me away, embracing its inconsistencies - one step at a time, one moment at a time.
In mathematics, a fractal is an object with a recursive, geometric pattern that repeats itself across different scales and sizes. No matter how far you zoom in or how far you zoom out, the pattern remains the same. In nature, for example, we see this kind of complexity in snowflakes, seashells, and lightning bolts.
A year ago, on a late night in the company of friends, lost in the sound of the classical music of Bach (which we are usually not in the habit of playing around each other), I was struck by a particularly strong intuition. At that moment, I was so moved by the sound around me that I couldn’t help but feel that that man had tapped into a rhythm of the universe that was as true to reality as the laws of physics.
For months, I didn’t think much of this intuition beyond appreciating its sentimental value. But then something else struck me: What if there are fractals embedded in music that make it what it is? Sure enough, a quick search returned studies by others who had had similar thoughts, indeed finding elementary hints of them in Bach’s music. Benoit Mandelbrot, the man who coined the term fractal, was sure that music in general carried them, hiding in patterns we have yet to decipher.
Click image for larger size.
A famous, old quote by the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus says: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” In other words, we live in a universe of change: matter changes, the mind changes, and the interaction between them changes.
This change is neither predictable, nor consistent. Parts of reality, those that abide by the laws of physics, have a mathematical harmony that we can trust, but as soon as you mix in observers with subjective experiences, this trust, at least in the broader context, gets clouded away by uncertainty.
Living with uncertainty, then, brings forth a question: What do we do about truth? If we can’t be sure that there is ever anything fixed and concrete to hold onto, no foundation other than the simplicity of change and impermanence, is there any hope we might capture some aspect of what could be considered eternally true beyond the confines of a systematic, logical framework - something not bound by specific questions and answers?
One response, perhaps, is that if we move away from the reduction of reality created in our conscious experience by the language we use to divide and conquer our surroundings, we can aspire toward more complete knowledge.
If we understand change for what it is, there is a way to see that uncertainty isn’t the absence of truth but a component of it. When change is viewed as a non-divisible process that doesn’t stop so that we can measure it here and then there - that it can’t be captured in words and formulas - there is a way see how every moment is both consistent and contradictory, a part and a whole, bounded and boundless - everything and nothing.
Growing up, I didn’t see that. My mind worked to uncover the consistencies, the parts, and the things that are bounded, but it completely missed the other side. It wasn’t until I started thinking outside of that box, pursuing more creative thoughts and activities, that I was able to complement my limited understanding with everything that I was missing - like the contradictions, the wholes, and the boundlessness. The truth is both logical and creative at the same time, and this tension is at the core of what it means to exist, and it’s responsible for creating every other dichotomy that we find ourselves being pulled between.
One thing to note about fractals is that their abstract mathematical existence differs from how they appear in nature. In our mind, captured in symbols, they are infinite. Whereas in the natural world, they are not. Even if music exists on some hypothetical plane of logic, the world of matter doesn’t fully correspond to it, disturbing its sense of flawlessness.
There is, however, something about music that attaches it to the truth, and this something is precisely the fact that it isn’t infinite as a fractal. It combines both the perfection of logic and the imperfection of creativity when it manifests in reality, and it uses that combination to overload our senses with an experience that is larger than both the order and the chaos, without taking away their unique essences.
As I think this through, I suspect that my own connection to sound is a bias of my body, or perhaps even a bias of our technologies, as once we set music in motion, we can easily augment its effect by manipulating it so that it hits harder than the words and the stories on paper or the visuals and paintings on canvases. We have more control over how and where we interact with it.
The point, nonetheless, is that art in general does something that we typically and mistakenly credit science with: It lets us peer beyond appearances and see the truth of our existence. Science, contrary to popular belief, isn’t about truth; it’s about utility: about what works in this world, with a certain degree of confidence, where one thing is wrong and another one is right. It does, of course, capture some truth, but not all of it.
Good art, on the other hand, isn’t just merely creative. It, too, has a partial system of logic tied to it, where some degree of rightness and wrongness is distinguished. This logical edifice, however, is also peppered with contradictions, wholes, and boundlessness - things that balance the order of what we understand in fixed and concrete terms.
As someone who until a few years ago had an aversion to the word spiritual, I don’t feel qualified to claim alliance to a particular source of absolute truth, nor do I feel complete certainty about what it even is. But what I do know is that if art has any real purpose beyond its role as an outlet of expression and connection, it’s to mimic the dance of reality. The great books, albums, paintings, and other mediums of ingenuity condense the mystery of the universe into a form of vitality, one that not only shares a message but also moves you to really see the world.
In one way or another, we are all looking for a connection to something that transcends the impermanence of change. The only way there, however, is to latch on to the thing that best embodies change itself."
"People frequently tell children “You can do anything you want.” And this causes a lot of confusion, because in the real world, they can’t. And after their first clash with the aforesaid real world, the child is left wondering all sorts of unpleasant things:
Did mom and dad lie to me?
Are they just ignorant?
Am I defective?
Should I find someone to blame?
The worst thing about this, however, is that the child is likely to have their opinion of themselves reduced. And that’s tragic. As I’ve noted many times, we are magical creatures. Humans, alone in the known universe, are able to create willfully… are able to reverse entropy willfully. The child should think of his and her self as magical… because they really are! So, let’s make some sense of this problem.
Why You Can: Humans are radically amazing. Sure, we’ve been long trained to consider each other to be sacks of crap – a belief that’s essential to rulership – but it simply isn’t true. We are stunningly capable beings, and we generally behave pretty well, even under the reign of self-debasement.
Take a look around you. Wherever you live, you’re surrounded by buildings, roads, and cars. All of them exist only because of human virtues. Without human creativity, they could not exist. Without human cooperation, they could not exist. And they are everywhere. We’ve filled the Earth with hospitals and airplanes and food and computers and medicine. And the list could go on almost indefinitely.
More than that, we’ve learned how to cooperate very well. Forget wars; they’re run by competing states and will exist as long as states do. Instead, look at your local soccer league, little league, church choir, and family gathering.
And remember that we’ve been trained to see one flaw in a cooperative group and condemn the whole from it. (And to hypnotically accept any and every flaw of the state.) A few flaws are meaningless compared to modes of cooperation that thrive over decades, centuries, and millennia. Does being less than perfect make us monsters? Does anything less than 100% equal zero?
So, we are wonderful creatures. And how much better might we be if we dared consider that possibility? Here’s a quote from G.K. Chesterton that I’d like you to read: "There runs a strange law through the length of human history – that men are continually tending to undervalue their environment, to undervalue their happiness, to undervalue themselves. The great sin of mankind, the sin typified by the fall of Adam, is the tendency, not towards pride, but towards this weird and horrible humility."
Can we dare imagine that Chesterton was right? And if not, why not? That kind of imagination is what the child needs, and it is that kind of imagination that results in human thriving, as noted by Leon Battista Alberti, the epitome of the Renaissance Man: "A man can do all things if he will."
Yes, that’s a bit overstated, but we have the essential ability to do amazing things, and if we thought and acted like it – thought and acted like Leon Battista Alberti – we’d do a lot more amazing things.
Why You Can’t: There are two reasons you can’t do anything at all. The first is simple: Nature stands in your way. No matter how much we imagine we can do something, if nature doesn’t agree, we can’t do it. We can work with nature to do “impossible” things (building flying machines for example), but we can’t simply violate it.
The second reason is also simple: Other human wills oppose us and stand ready to use violence against us. This second reason is habitually cloaked in confusing and deceptive terminology of course, but the truth is that adversarial wills and their violence oppose us all.
What we lack is what we can call “a life affording scope.” Limitations of our scope – weaponized wills set against us – have been colorfully covered by Reason magazine’s “Brickbats” section for decades, but the problem goes much farther than that. I’ll give you a few thoughts on that, then bring this column to a close:
• Regulation forbids adaptation.
• Obligation supplants compassion.
• Only violent and corrupt human wills deserve restriction.
And one more, the “14 words” we used in a previous article: "We are a beautiful species, living in a beautiful world, ruled by abusive systems." This is why I’ve been drawn to the cryptosphere. Our scope of life within that realm is not obstructed by weaponized wills. It’s a special place."
"We humans may be brilliant and we may be special, but we are still connected to the rest of life. No one reminds us of this better than our dogs. Perhaps the human condition will always include attempts to remind ourselves that we are separate from the rest of the natural world. We are different from other animals; it's undeniably true. But while acknowledging that, we must acknowledge another truth, the truth that we are also the same. That is what dogs and their emotions give us - a connection. A connection to life on earth, to all that binds and cradles us, lest we begin to feel too alone. Dogs are our bridge - our connection to who we really are, and most tellingly, who we want to be. When we call them home to us, it's as if we are calling for home itself. And that'll do, dogs. That'll do."
"Time passes in moments. Moments which, rushing past, define the path of a life, just as surely as they lead towards its end. How rarely do we stop to examine that path, to see the reasons why all things happen? To consider whether the path we take in life is our own making, or simply one into which we drift with eyes closed? But what if we could stop, pause to take stock of each precious moment before it passes? Might we then see the endless forks in the road that have shaped a life? And, seeing those choices, choose another path?"
"Believing Without Evidence Is Always Morally Wrong"
by Francisco Mejia Uribe
"You have probably never heard of William Kingdon Clifford. He is not in the pantheon of great philosophers – perhaps because his life was cut short at the age of 33 – but I cannot think of anyone whose ideas are more relevant for our interconnected, AI-driven, digital age. This might seem strange given that we are talking about a Victorian Briton whose most famous philosophical work is an essay nearly 150 years ago. However, reality has caught up with Clifford. His once seemingly exaggerated claim that ‘it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence’ is no longer hyperbole but a technical reality.
In ‘The Ethics of Belief’ (1877), Clifford gives three arguments as to why we have a moral obligation to believe responsibly, that is, to believe only what we have sufficient evidence for, and what we have diligently investigated. His first argument starts with the simple observation that our beliefs influence our actions. Everyone would agree that our behavior is shaped by what we take to be true about the world – which is to say, by what we believe. If I believe that it is raining outside, I’ll bring an umbrella. If I believe taxis don’t take credit cards, I make sure I have some cash before jumping into one. And if I believe that stealing is wrong, then I will pay for my goods before leaving the store.
What we believe is then of tremendous practical importance. False beliefs about physical or social facts lead us into poor habits of action that in the most extreme cases could threaten our survival. If the singer R Kelly genuinely believed the words of his song ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ (1996), I can guarantee you he would not be around by now.
But it is not only our own self-preservation that is at stake here. As social animals, our agency impacts on those around us, and improper believing puts our fellow humans at risk. As Clifford warns: ‘We all suffer severely enough from the maintenance and support of false beliefs and the fatally wrong actions which they lead to …’ In short, sloppy practices of belief-formation are ethically wrong because – as social beings – when we believe something, the stakes are very high.
The most natural objection to this first argument is that while it might be true that some of our beliefs do lead to actions that can be devastating for others, in reality most of what we believe is probably inconsequential for our fellow humans. As such, claiming as Clifford did that it is wrong in all cases to believe on insufficient evidence seems like a stretch. I think critics had a point – had – but that is no longer so. In a world in which just about everyone’s beliefs are instantly shareable, at minimal cost, to a global audience, every single belief has the capacity to be truly consequential in the way Clifford imagined. If you still believe this is an exaggeration, think about how beliefs fashioned in a cave in Afghanistan lead to acts that ended lives in New York, Paris and London. Or consider how influential the ramblings pouring through your social media feeds have become in your very own daily behavior. In the digital global village that we now inhabit, false beliefs cast a wider social net, hence Clifford’s argument might have been hyperbole when he first made it, but is no longer so today.
The second argument Clifford provides to back his claim that it is always wrong to believe on insufficient evidence is that poor practices of belief-formation turn us into careless, credulous believers. Clifford puts it nicely: ‘No real belief, however trifling and fragmentary it may seem, is ever truly insignificant; it prepares us to receive more of its like, confirms those which resembled it before, and weakens others; and so gradually it lays a stealthy train in our inmost thoughts, which may someday explode into overt action, and leave its stamp upon our character.’ Translating Clifford’s warning to our interconnected times, what he tells us is that careless believing turns us into easy prey for fake-news peddlars, conspiracy theorists and charlatans. And letting ourselves become hosts to these false beliefs is morally wrong because, as we have seen, the error cost for society can be devastating. Epistemic alertness is a much more precious virtue today than it ever was, since the need to sift through conflicting information has exponentially increased, and the risk of becoming a vessel of credulity is just a few taps of a smartphone away.
Clifford’s third and final argument as to why believing without evidence is morally wrong is that, in our capacity as communicators of belief, we have the moral responsibility not to pollute the well of collective knowledge. In Clifford’s time, the way in which our beliefs were woven into the ‘precious deposit’ of common knowledge was primarily through speech and writing. Because of this capacity to communicate, ‘our words, our phrases, our forms and processes and modes of thought’ become ‘common property’. Subverting this ‘heirloom’, as he called it, by adding false beliefs is immoral because everyone’s lives ultimately rely on this vital, shared resource.
While Clifford’s final argument rings true, it again seems exaggerated to claim that every little false belief we harbor is a moral affront to common knowledge. Yet reality, once more, is aligning with Clifford, and his words seem prophetic. Today, we truly have a global reservoir of belief into which all of our commitments are being painstakingly added: it’s called Big Data. You don’t even need to be an active netizen posting on Twitter or ranting on Facebook: more and more of what we do in the real world is being recorded and digitized, and from there algorithms can easily infer what we believe before we even express a view. In turn, this enormous pool of stored belief is used by algorithms to make decisions for and about us. And it’s the same reservoir that search engines tap into when we seek answers to our questions and acquire new beliefs. Add the wrong ingredients into the Big Data recipe, and what you’ll get is a potentially toxic output. If there was ever a time when critical thinking was a moral imperative, and credulity a calamitous sin, it is now."
"The Fellowship of Those Who Bear The Mark of Pain -
Who Are The Members of This Fellowship?"
by Albert Schweitzer
“Those who have learned by experience what physical and emotional pain and anguish mean are a community all over the world. They are united by a secret bond. One and all, they know the horrors of suffering to which mankind can be subjected. One and all, they know the longing to be free from pain. He who has been delivered from pain must not think he is now free again and can live his life just as he did before. Having come deeply to know pain and anguish, he must help to take a stand against pain and anguish so far as human power can control them, and to bring others the deliverance which he himself has experienced.
Such is the fellowship of those who bear the mark of pain. One and all we must realize that our existence receives its true meaning only when we experience within ourselves the truth of the saying - "He who loses his life will find it."
A human being is never a total and permanent stranger to another human being. Man belongs to man. Whoever is spared personal pain, must feel himself called to help in the diminishment of pain in others. Whatever kindness a man puts out into the world, works on the thoughts and hearts of his fellow man. The only way out of today's misery is for people to become worthy of each other's trust.
No ray of sunlight is ever lost, but the green which it wakes into existence needs time to sprout and it is not always granted to the sower to live to see the harvest. In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”
"I know the world seems terrifying right now and the future seems bleak. Just remember human beings have always managed to find the greatest strength within themselves during the darkest hours. When faced with the worst horrors the world has to offer, a person either cracks and succumbs to ugliness, or they salvage the inner core of who they are and fight to right wrongs. Never Let hatred, fear, and ignorance get the best of you. Keep bettering yourself so you can make the world around you better, for nothing can improve without the brightest, bravest, kindest, and most imaginative individuals rising above the chaos."
SAN MARTIN, ARGENTINA – "Wow… What a week! There must have been a full moon, a lunatic new high in the Nasdaq, and an all-time monthly record in federal deficits. If monthly deficits were to continue at June’s rate, the deficit for the year would be a sizzling $7.6 trillion. It is the best of times and the worst of times. Stock market investors went howling mad. The last quarter was the best for the Dow Jones in 33 years. But for the economy, it was the worst quarter in history!
Dizzying Highs: Last week also brought Donald Trump to claim that Joe Biden had “plagiarized” his economic program, after Biden unveiled his “Buy American” plan. The Donald said it with characteristic pride, flattered that someone would want to imitate him. Apparently, now, both parties are going to make America great again. A more thoughtful man might have wondered why the big spending dumbbells on the other side of the aisle would think his program was just fine for them, too. When the tone deaf fellow in the church choir is hitting the same notes you are… maybe it’s time to change your tune.
But wait, there’s more… Mary Trump (Donald’s niece) says the president paid someone to take his SATs, and Kanye West announced that he’s running for president too. (Sure to boost brand awareness for his clothing line, Yeezy. We had never heard of it.)
And Tesla flew to such a dizzy high last week that we practically broke our neck looking at it. Here’s money-manager extraordinaire Chris Mayer: "Tesla is now worth more than Toyota, GM, Ford and Fiat combined, and yet, still can’t deliver 500,000 vehicles annually, can’t make a profit, sales haven’t grown much since 2018, they have a CEO who openly taunts the SEC saying they suck his you-know-what, and they have at best doctored up financials (at worst, fraudulent)." Tesla stock is up 270% so far this year. It trades at 288 times free cash flow. Wow. What a great company, right? Or what? The “or what” is what interests us today. And we have a feeling that it concerns much more than Tesla…
$20 Billion Countertrade: Tesla is so obviously over-priced that it has created a whole “or what” $20 billion countertrade. That is the value of the shares that are now “short” TSLA. Bloomberg columnist Matt Levine: "Let’s call it Anti-Tesla … is apparently the biggest synthetic company ever, the largest pool of shares ever manufactured by people betting against a company. It’s no Toyota, but Anti-Tesla is bigger than Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV; the market value of Tesla stock produced by short sellers is larger than the market value of an entire real car company."
That’s… something. I don’t know. It’s easy to scoff that Tesla, a young and still-niche company that has not produced a lot of profits, is more valuable than these big mature car companies; but even that scoffing itself is more valuable than some of those companies. Finance is weird. Weird? Yes. And so far this year, the scoffers have lost (on paper, at least) some $18 billion. Tesla has gone up. Their short positions have gone down.
But that’s the problem with “or what”? What’s going on is insane. But if you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs, you will probably lose a lot of money.
Real-World Damage: A sane, sensible and sober investor should stay away from U.S. stocks. After all, stocks represent real businesses. And real businesses operate in the real world… which, measured by GDP, may have slumped 38% last quarter. Those businesses will probably never again be worth as much as they were a year ago. And now, we can expect a “recovery.” But losses are losses. They are permanent, like a summer spent indoors.
Time passes; it never comes back. And when the economy eventually goes back outside – with pasty skin, wasted muscles, and trillions more in heavy debt to lug around – it is unlikely to regain its old vigor. Stocks should reflect the real-world damage, in other words, not ignore it.
In February 2020, the stock market was on the ropes, and getting pummeled by the COVID-19 shutdown. There was no reason to think the economy would come out of the ring intact. But investors who took the anti-stock bet missed a 35% rebound. Now, the economy is still black and blue, and walking with a limp. But the market averages are back to where they were when The Donald could claim it was “the best economy ever.”
Measuring Insanity: But the averages, too, are nutty. Take out the top 10 tech stocks – Apple, Facebook, etc. – and you wipe out half the Nasdaq. On the S&P 500, the top 10 stocks represent 80% of the index. With the exception of Berkshire Hathaway and Johnson & Johnson, they, too, are all tech or finance companies. But do these entertainment, time-wasting, and money-spinning companies really account for half or more of America’s real wealth?
Of course not. Like Tesla, what they measure is insanity, counted out in the Federal Reserve’s paper wealth… and speculators’ enthusiasm for casino-like gains.
Take U.S. bonds, for example. What is a bond worth that is issued by a 244-year-old company that is (in the month of June) spending four times as much as it earns? What is it worth when the company also controls the currency in which the bond is payable, and when it is covering its deficits by printing more of it? And what if it had no plans to stop losing money, or to stop printing the money to pay its losses?
The short answer: its bonds wouldn’t be worth very much. But U.S. bonds have actually gone up. If you’d dumped U.S. Treasuries three years ago, you would have missed a total return of about 50%.In short, it’s been a rough time for people who aren’t insane. Only one anti-insanity bet has really paid off…. More to come…"
"Scientists Discover That The One Big Assumption That
Everyone Has Been Making About COVID-19 May Be Dead Wrong"
by Michael Snyder
"Over the past several months, there has been a tremendous amount of debate about almost every aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic. People have been eager to debate about the severity of the virus, they have been eager to debate about the wisdom of the lockdowns, and they have been eager to debate about the effectiveness of wearing masks. But the one thing that everyone could pretty much agree on is that eventually this pandemic would end. Virtually all of us assumed that one way or another eventually most of the population would develop COVID-19 antibodies and that once we got to that point the pandemic would fizzle out. Unfortunately, it appears that was not a safe assumption to make.
Yes, those that have had COVID-19 do develop antibodies. But two new scientific studies have discovered that those antibodies start to fade very, very quickly. For example, a study that was recently conducted in China found that more than 90 percent of COVID-19 patients experience steep declines in COVID-19 antibodies “within 2 to 3 months”: "A new study from China showed that antibodies faded quickly in both asymptomatic and symptomatic COVID-19 patients during convalescence, raising questions about whether the illness leads to any lasting immunity to the virus afterward.
The study, which focused on 37 asymptomatic and 37 symptomatic patients, showed that more than 90% of both groups showed steep declines in levels of SARS-COV-2–specific immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies within 2 to 3 months after onset of infection, according to a report published yesterday in Nature Medicine. Further, 40% of the asymptomatic group tested negative for IgG antibodies 8 weeks after they were released from isolation."
And a very large study that was just conducted in Spain found that some patients that had initially successfully developed antibodies “no longer had antibodies weeks later”: "A large study from Spain showed that antibodies can disappear weeks after people have tested positive, causing some to question how possible it will be to attain herd immunity. A study published in medical journal Lancet showed 14% of people who tested positive for antibodies no longer had antibodies weeks later."
Needless to say, this is absolutely devastating news, and it has very serious implications for vaccine development: "Such findings have implications for vaccine development, since the efficacy of a vaccine hinges on the idea that a dose of weakened or dead virus can prompt your body to generate antibodies that protect you from future infection. If those antibodies are fleeting, a vaccine’s protection would be fleeting too."
Short-lived antibodies also diminish hopes of achieving widespread or permanent herd immunity. If antibodies can fade in some patients within weeks, and if just about everyone loses them after a few months, that would render any vaccine almost completely useless.
And if these findings are confirmed, we can pretty much forget about ever achieving “herd immunity”. Instead, we are potentially facing a future in which COVID-19 will be with us permanently, and people will need to understand that there is a possibility that they will be able to get infected repeatedly.
Sadly, there is evidence that this is already starting to happen for some patients. In a recent article for Vox, a doctor in Washington D.C. named D. Clay Ackerly shared that one of his patients got infected with COVID-19 again three months after being infected the first time: “Wait. I can catch Covid twice?” my 50-year-old patient asked in disbelief. It was the beginning of July, and he had just tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, for a second time - three months after a previous infection."
And in that same article, Dr. Ackerly explained that other doctors are starting to see similar cases: "Recent reports and conversations with physician colleagues suggest my patient is not alone. Two patients in New Jersey, for instance, appear to have contracted Covid-19 a second time almost two months after fully recovering from their first infection. Daniel Griffin, a physician and researcher at Columbia in New York, recently described a case of presumed reinfection on the 'This Week in Virology' podcast."
If you stop and really think about what all of this means, it will chill you to the core. It means that COVID-19 is never going away. And every time you get it, the more severe it is likely to be. Each time it will do even more permanent damage to your system until it finally finishes you off.
I seriously wish that what I was telling you was not true. I do not want to have to worry about a potentially deadly virus every time I leave my house. But sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that everything is going to be okay somehow is not going to do us any good. In fact, denial can kill you.
A 37-year-old Ohio man named Richard Rose originally thought that all of the fuss about COVID-19 was just “hype”, and he angrily insisted that he would never buy a mask. The following is what he posted on Facebook on April 28th: ‘Let make this clear,’ he wrote, in a post that was shared 10,000 times. ‘I’m not buying a ******* mask. I’ve made it this far by not buying into that damn hype.’ Sadly, he eventually got infected, and COVID-19 killed him on July 3rd: "Richard Rose, a 37-year-old man from Port Clinton, Ohio, recently died from coronavirus after slamming “hype” about the pandemic on Facebook. Rose’s family told Cleveland CBS affiliate 19 News the US Army veteran died at home on July 3, just three days after testing positive for COVID-19."
He was a healthy 37-year-old man. If the virus can take him down, it could potentially take just about anyone down. So please take this pandemic seriously.
Over the past week, we have seen daily numbers soar to levels that we have never seen before, and some experts believe that the numbers will continue to go higher as we approach the end of the year. And as I just discussed above, if those that have had the virus quickly lose immunity, there will be nothing to stop this virus from sweeping across the globe year after year.
Needless to say, a lot more scientific studies need to be conducted, and hopefully those additional studies will show that the studies that were done in China and Spain were completely wrong. But at this point the outlook for fighting this virus is exceedingly bleak, and scientists assure us that it is just a matter of time before a pandemic that is even worse comes along."