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March 26, 2020

The Morning Rant: Minimalist Edition

punk-monkey.jpg

This is an obvious point, and one that many of us have been hammering home for days. It is a sad testament to the innumeracy of the fourth estate that they could not see the obvious flaws in the data they were trumpeting.

So...two Stanford professors (and judging by their CVs they are leftists) point out the undeniable problems with terrifyingly high death rates that are calculated from the sickest cohorts. Uh...hey dumb-ass reporter...what about the many people who contracted Sino-Lung-Rot, felt crappy for a few days, then went on with their lives?

(It's behind a pay wall, but some of you may know how to get around it.)
Is the Coronavirus as Deadly as They Say?

If it’s true that the novel coronavirus would kill millions without shelter-in-place orders and quarantines, then the extraordinary measures being carried out in cities and states around the country are surely justified. But there’s little evidence to confirm that premise—and projections of the death toll could plausibly be orders of magnitude too high.

Fear of Covid-19 is based on its high estimated case fatality rate — 2% to 4% of people with confirmed Covid-19 have died, according to the World Health Organization and others. So if 100 million Americans ultimately get the disease, 2 million to 4 million could die. We believe that estimate is deeply flawed. The true fatality rate is the portion of those infected who die, not the deaths from identified positive cases.

The latter rate is misleading because of selection bias in testing. The degree of bias is uncertain because available data are limited. But it could make the difference between an epidemic that kills 20,000 and one that kills 2 million. If the number of actual infections is much larger than the number of cases—orders of magnitude larger—then the true fatality rate is much lower as well. That’s not only plausible but likely based on what we know so far.

A basic understanding of statistics, data-gathering and a few other very simple skills that most people learn in a single statistics class would have gone a very long way toward a more sober and dispassionate analysis of the current pandemic.

But that won't sell newspapers and get clicks, and that won't get rid of President Trump! And besides, from the significant amount of evidence provided over the past few years about the typical journalist's (and politician's) intellect, these basic concepts may be far beyond their intellectual capacities.


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posted by CBD at 11:00 AM

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