Ask A Genius 534 – Obviously, Fatally Stupid

In-Sight Publishing

Ask A Genius 534 – Obviously, Fatally Stupid

March 25, 2020

[Beginning of recorded material]

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How many people will die? Is it possible for 100,000,000 people to cease living based on current numbers?

Rick Rosner: 100,000,000 people aren’t going to die. It is still early enough in the history of the disease. We don’t know the mortality of the disease. 2% is a reasonable guess. For 100,000,000 to die, it would mean 5,000,000,000 would need to get it.

I think even the most pessimistic views of the virus don’t have 60% of the world getting it. Looking back on the 20th century, the unit measurement of all the really bad shit that happened is 10,000,000. WWI killed 20,000,000. Spanish Flu 20,000,000 to 30,000,00; WWII at 30,000,000 to 40,000,000. Mao killed 50,000,000 Chinese. Stalin killed 40,000,000 of his own people.

If this gets reasonably out of control, then it could take out those kinds of numbers, which would mean 30,000,000 or 40,000,000 death. It could become a catastrophe on the scale of the huge catastrophes of the 20th century.

We don’t know what happens in countries where they don’t get an immediate handle on it, e.g., the US. Where, we have 65,000 cases so far. We’re in the realm of 13,000 to 15,000 cases a day with it double every six or seven days.

So, it is hard to know whether we’ll get a handle on it before it affects a significant percent of the population. If it hits 10% of the US population, it gives you 33,000,000 cases times 2%, which gives you 600,000 dead.

That’s probably a little pessimistic. We may be able to get out of this with 200,000 dead. It is hard to know what fraction of the world’s population belongs to… we know that 1.5 billion people roughly live in countries that can get a handle on it.

China has 1.4 billion and they can apparently get a handle on it, plus some incidental countries, which can get a handle on it. The remaining 6 billion on Earth. We don’t know how many can get a handle on it before complete capitulation and herd immunity after a shitload of people already having it.

Let’s say 3,000,000,000 people in countries that will get a handle on it, and 10% of everybody get it, so 300,000,000 people get it times 2%, gives you 6,000,000 dead in those countries. Then you’ve got another 3,000,000,000 living in countries that will completely botch it.

Where 1/3rd of everybody will get it, it means 1,000,000,000 people getting it, means 20,000,000 dead, which, added to people from other countries that half stopped it, gives you around 25,000,000 dead.

So, I guess, that’s my estimate, but it can be off by a factor of 3 on the high side and 10 on the low side. We might get lucky and only a couple of million people die worldwide, which seems unlikely.

In that, I think the Swine Flu killed roughly 570,000 people worldwide. And it was a very unkilly flu killing only like 1/40th of 1% of everybody who got it. So, a reasonable estimate will be that when this thing finally subsides/has a vaccine a year to 15 months from now; it’s not unreasonable to think 10,000,000 people, at least, will be killed by it, putting it on the scale of the middling mass killer diseases of history.

Jacobsen: If we look at the United States case, it’ll start with big cities, metropolitan centers like New York. What do you think will be the case when the coastlines are infused and then it enters the center of America?

Rosner: California is fairly good shape because the governor and mayor of Los Angeles, and the mayors of the other big cities, have asked everybody to shelter in place. So, the number of cases coming out California right now is not a terrible number. So, California may get away with 1% of the population getting it.

That’s probably overly optimistic. California has only 40,000,000 people. Let’s say a little less than 1% of the population gets it before a vaccination comes along because we manage to avoid infecting people at a huge rate, say 900,000 in California plus 2% mortality or less.

It would be 1.5% times 900,000 or 13,500 people, which is still a lot of people. New York City is not necessarily the size of the cities in the various states. The very biggest cities will get hit the worst. It might be the dumbness of the leaders like Florida governor Ron DeSantis still doesn’t want people to shelter in place.

Even though, Florida might be the most infected state besides New York, except for early spikes in temperature. There are a lot of people in Florida running fevers now. New Orleans is a fucking mess generating cases per capita at the highest rate, maybe in the world or in America, because Mardi Gras meant mass infection.

The Civil War starts – Alabama, Missouri, Mississippi – have these redneck dumbshit governors who don’t think bad things will happen to them. Ditto with Texas. One of the governors, was Mississippi, some local city councils ordered their populations to shelter in place like Tupelo, Mississippi.

Not a huge town, maybe 200,000, I don’t know, but the fucking governor passed an edict or issued an edict that says, ‘Individuals cities aren’t allowed to tell their citizens to shelter in place, stay at home.’

So, people in Tupelo, where the governor overruled, are forcing people to go back to work. It is obviously, fatally stupid. Places like that may have outbreaks in middling population cities and smaller towns because their leaders have convinced them deep in Trump land that a) they arenot going to get it and b) the economy is more important than a few cases, and c) it won’t be so bad if they get it.

The US with its population of 330,000,000 in 50 states is like a bunch of little countries in the way that people are approaching the disease. So, it’s hard to say how it is going to play out. It could be that states where it goes wild, e.g., Florida, may have people fleeing to nearby states just to get a hospital bed because beds are going to overflow.

According to some estimates, by June, up to 15 people who need a bed for every bed available, people will hop in cars and make sweaty, barely able to breathe, drives up to Georgia and up to Alabama.

Anyway, people will flee centers of infection and invade states that have lesser levels of infection. It is going to be grim in many places. You’re lucky enough to live pretty far inland and, maybe, enough North of America that you won’t get too badly invaded. I live on the California coast, which gives us a 200 mile, 300 mile, buffer between us and, maybe, some stupider states.

Nevada may close down all the casinos. I don’t know what they do. Maybe, they are being reasonable, maybe Arizona. Their government is Republican. I don’t know how stupid they’re being. North of us is Oregon, which is, I think, democratic governance.

So, they probably have somewhat of a handle on it. I’m hoping that we won’t get invaded by states that have been sloppier with their handling of this. But there will be states in the South where shit gets ugly.

[End of recorded material]


Rick Rosner

American Television Writer


Rick Rosner

Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Founder, In-Sight Publishing


In-Sight Publishing


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