P, you seem to have a source of absolutely reliable facts - at least according to what you write here. But none of those assertions seem like reliably-established facts to me.
We just have to face the key question: how do any of us, sitting within our small circles of direct Dunbar-Number face-to-face acquaintance, get to know with certainty that any of the information we pick up from the wider, outwith-Dunbar world is reliable? And how do we assign reliability ratings, 1 - 100, to what we hear.
Trying to navigate through all this flood of assertion, with those caveats always in the back of the mind, I simply don’t know anything much on which I’d stake my great-grand-chldren’s lives. None of it is wholly trustworthy. And in the end, you only have the signals of your intuitive nose to guide you.
For this reason, I can’t necessarily accept as reliable ANY of the outwith-Dunbar assertions which you offer. (Naturally, I accept your own - anguished - experience within your own Dunbar group as authentic; just as I accept Dr. dan’s testimony on his own long-covid battle. But those don’t justify the leap from single direct experience to clear large-scale statistical trends, do they? Those, we just don’t know; not with any life-staking confidence.)
Paradoxically, these days it’s our own anecdotals which are now best evidence; even though anecdotals are generally reckoned to be - at best - just secondary support evidence to the hard-fact experimental and statistical evidence. When you can actually trust any of them, that is…
Excruciating though I know it is, I fear we just have to live with the situation that we’re now in a time when powerful forces of epidemic corruption and organised lying have now made ALL outwith-Dunbar assertions inherently untrustable. We just can’t trust ANY of it. Basing any line, at all, of fully-assured certainty on it is just asking to be conned…
Sorry to keep disputing with you on this, P, but I think this blanket scepticism is now unavoidable. But brotherly solidarity in any case.