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Richard Epstein has yet more thoughts on COVID


22 months ago, Richard Epstein predicted that 500 people would die from COVID n the USA. This turned out to be an underestimate. Now if I had done something like that, my #1 strategy going forward would be to never speak about the subject again. But I guess that’s why I’m not the inaugural Laurence Tisch Chair at NYU’s law school, while at the same time raking in the Hoover Institute’s very filthy lucre.

Here’s Epstein three weeks ago on the OSHA vaccine mandate, right before it was blocked by the SCOTUS:

As should be evident, the usual arguments raised against the mandate have proceeded largely on administrative law grounds, dealing with questions such as whether an agency should decide a question of this magnitude without a directive from Congress. But what is missing from most accounts of these administrative complexities is any careful examination of the key medical proposition that the government has taken as a given all along: namely, that the vaccines are safe and effective for their intended purpose. 

The purpose of these dual standards is well accepted under standard FDA law—a product that is not safe should not be used. But an authoritative definition of safety has long proved elusive. No product is absolutely safe. In practice, determinations of safety are judgment calls, where it is first commonly asked how large the risks are relative to the benefits and whether some kind of warning can be issued to ease the dangers of a misapplication of some drug or vaccine. Effectiveness is also a central question—even if a drug or vaccine poses only minor risks, it should not be taken if it has only modest abilities to treat the condition in question. 

These two concerns are pervasive. Here, the most obvious question is whether the CDC’s conclusion withstands scrutiny. Clearly, if the vaccines were undeniably as safe and effective as the government claims, there would be no need for any mandate at all. 

The highlighted sentence by itself proves beyond a reasonable doubt that nobody should ever listen to Epstein about anything. It is possibly the most asinine, absurd, and ridiculous thing I’ve ever read actually written by a law professor, which is kind of like picking out Michael Jordan’s most impressive dunk.

In case you’re wondering, here are the authorities Epstein goes on to cite for the proposition that there are serious doubts about both the safety and the efficacy of the mRNA vaccines:

A law firm representing parties opposed to the OSHA mandate

Alex Berenson

The Epoch Times

Andrew Gelman:

The two cool things about this Richard Epstein dude are:

1. He has no capacity for embarrassment.

2. The Hoover Institution has has no capacity for embarrassment in continuing to feature his writings. . .

Once you have influence in one domain, it makes sense to want to apply it elsewhere. Fair enough. The bad part is when, instead of just saying, “As an eminent legal scholar, my take is that it’s dangerous for the government to regulate X, Y, and Z,” he starts bullshitting about scientific and statistical evidence. I mean, sure, he should be allowed to do this—we still have freedom of speech in this country!—but he shouldn’t want to make a fool of himself in that way. Policy isn’t a debate club where you win by throwing a “spread” of poop at the wall on the theory that some of it will stick—which reminds me, I highly recommend the novels of Ben Lerner; right now I’m in the middle of The Topeka School—it’s real life. To start with a position, and then cruise the internet looking for disinformation sites that will provide pseudo-evidence to support it . . . that’s not good. I again refer you to Rex Douglass’s article, “How to be Curious Instead of Contrarian About COVID-19: Eight Data Science Lessons From Coronavirus Perspective.” But . . . Epstein’s circulation of reheated propaganda is sponsored by the Hoover Institution, which is part of Stanford University, which is supposed to be an institution of learning . . .

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