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On cognitive bias, Zach Wilson, and mRNA jabs
Why can't policymakers stop pushing obvious failures?
Your first loss is your best loss.
This is simple, brilliant Wall Street advice, another way of saying, Don’t throw good money after bad.
The best investors never get emotionally involved, especially when they’re down. They don’t panic if a stock goes against them. But they constantly reevaluate their positions as new facts arrive. If they see they’ve made a mistake, they admit the truth to themselves, pull the trigger, and sell, even if they’re down.
Sounds easy. But it’s not. Admitting you’re wrong is hard. It’s hard on Wall Street - and everywhere else.
(YOUR FIRST SUBSCRIPTION IS YOUR BEST SUBSCRIPTION. ESPECIALLY FOR 20 CENTS A DAY!)
Know what else is hard? Playing quarterback in the National Football League.
So to Zach Wilson. Poor, squinty-eyed Zach Wilson, starting quarterback for the poor New York Jets.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In April, the Jets traded for Aaron Rodgers, an all-time great - and not just because he refused the mRNA jabs. Alas, Rodgers tore his Achilles tendon on the fourth snap of the season.
The injury was unfortunate but not unpredictable. Quarterbacks get hurt, and Rodgers is 39. The Jets could have signed a decent backup as insurance last spring for a few million dollars - a pittance by NFL standards.
Instead, they went into the season with Wilson backing up Rodgers. Why?
Well, in 2021 the Jets chose Wilson as the second overall pick in the NFL draft. Yes, they said he was the second-best football player available that year.
He wasn’t. Not the second or the 200th. The Jets made excuses: they’d rushed him, the receivers, the offensive line yadda yadda yadda. In reality, great quarterbacks show their quality fast - Joe Burrow turned Cincinnati around in his first season.
Not Wilson. Wilson isn’t great, good, mediocre, below average, or even bad. He’s terrible. His statistics are comparable to those of JaMarcus Russell, an all-time bust.
As Shannon Sharpe, a Hall of Fame player, put it:
Joe Douglas, the general manager of the Jets, isn’t dumb.
But Douglas wouldn’t admit the catastrophic mistake he made with Wilson when he could have done so cheaply, dumping Wilson after the Rodgers trade. No one would have cared last spring. Your first loss is your best loss. Instead, he hung up, choosing to hope Rodgers would stay healthy and let Wilson hold a clipboard on the sidelines.
Hope doesn’t go far in the NFL.
Now Wilson is back on the field, and he looks worse. Some quarterbacks make up for a lack of talent with confidence. Wilson has neither. On one play last Sunday, he took the snap, ran around a little, then plopped on his rear end for no particular reason.
Yet the Jets insist they are more committed to Wilson than ever.
On Monday, their head coach called Wilson their “unquestioned quarterback.”
The Jets are no doubt trying to help Wilson keep whatever fragments of confidence he has left. They’re also public posturing. Other teams signed all the decent backups the Jets could have had last spring. Prying one away will cost the Jets. They don’t want to seem desperate.
News flash: they are desperate. Aside from Wilson, they’re loaded with talent, which only makes matters worse. The players know better than anyone else how bad he is.
Football seasons go quick. Seventeen games. The Jets have played three. They’ve lost two, including last Sunday’s, which they would have won with even mediocre quarterback play. They have a winnable game the week after next too. But as long as Wilson is their quarterback they’ll probably keep losing - and soon the locker room will be in revolt.
The mRNA Covid jabs are the Zach Wilson of medicine, all show and no go.
They don’t stop infection, they don’t stop transmission. If they make any difference against Omicron or in people who have already had Covid (basically everyone), it is hard to see.
That grim picture doesn’t even account for their side effects.
Most of the rest of the world quietly admitted this reality this winter, refusing to recommend them for healthy adults under 65.
But the United States refused - and two weeks ago recommended the shots not just for all adults but for healthy children too, an indefensible decision.
Why? Put the hard-core conspiracy theories aside.
From the start the world has viewed the mRNA shots as American products (even though BioNTech, which developed the shots that Pfizer sells, is German). Further, the Biden Administration took full ownership of them when Uncle Joe took office, even though the Trump Administration developed them.
They are ours. We made them. And they work, darn it! They are the unquestioned vaccines.
The biggest difference between Zach Wilson and the mRNAs is that in a matter of weeks, the Jets will have to admit the truth everyone already knows. Football and sports in general brook no quarter. At every level, they unflinchingly expose reality. (On Sunday, as the Jets were losing, I watched my son’s soccer team get smoked for the third straight game. Though he scored, yay!)
The mRNAs are different. The public health authorities are the referees too, and the media is predisposed to make excuses for them, so they can keep the game going a little longer, and hide their humiliation.
But it is already clear that almost no one is going to take the boosters this fall. Pfizer has already ratcheted down expectations for them. Readers with elderly relatives are telling me that even nursing homes are not encouraging the shots.
There is one more difference between Wilson and the mRNAs, though. As painful as Wilson is to watch, he isn’t actually dangerous.
But another study just confirmed that the mRNAs produce a puzzling immune system change upon repeated dosing.
We have no idea exactly what the change means, or why it’s happening, or what its long-term impact might be. But it is yet another reason that health authorities and medical authorities should be wary of a biotechnology whose benefits (if any) last for months and whose long-term impacts are unknown.
They’re not just gambling with their own health. They’re gambling with the health of anyone who takes their advice.
Their first loss is our best loss.