Stop panicking over bad data

Sit, down, pour a bourbon, light a cigar, and indulge me in a mental exercise.

In this exercise, postulate that we have a population of a thousand people.

In this population, a disease gets loose — we’ll call it “Albino Brain Chiggers” — and one hundred people wind up in the hospital. Of the hundred in hospital, two of them die.

That’s a 2% mortality rate, and is fairly significant

However, turns out that a hundred other people had Albino Brain Chiggers, but it was a mild case that looked a lot like the usual seasonal respiratory illness, and they did what they always do: drank water, took Motrin, changed their socks, and drove on.

Since they didn’t bother getting medical attention, their stats don’t get counted, but they should: because it means that 200 people had ABC, but only two died — which is a mortality rate of 1%.


Take a sip, have a puff.

Now, let’s go one further. Let us postulate that half of all Albino Brain Chigger cases are “asymptomatic”, that is, the folks that have it never know. They continue about their lives, never getting sick, and, thus … never seeking medical attention. And never getting tested.

Half means that actually 400 people had ABC. And only two died.

That’s … let me get my shoes off …

… A 0.5% mortality rate.

The data regarding the Wuhan Virus you are currently getting is corrupted. Badly.

It’s corrupted because we had to develop a test for this thing, the numbers of tests are still kind of limited, and because of that we’re only testing sick people. We’re not testing the mild cases that just drive on, and we’re damned well not testing the asymptomatic cases.

It’s also corrupted because — let’s face it: Anybody who trusts any information from the Chinese Government, or any socialist government for that matter, should have their Licence To Adult taken away.

And since this whole mess started in China, a whole bunch of people who ought to know better are still using mortality numbers provided by the Chinese Government.

(Willing to bet that “Death by COVID-19” has overtaken “Death by Suicide” amongst wide swaths of Chinese dissidents, wrong-thinkers, political prisoners, and other folks deemed “undesirable” by the Chinese government.)

Be that as it may, the Chinese government can, will, and has lied to the rest of the world about things much less important than the Wuhan Virus.

Corruption also comes from tests with false positives, false negatives, people who still think “over-reacting is the best way to proceed” if they’re in doubt; and myriad uncountable other issues in the complicated problem that is a new illness.

Not to mention that at least one non-Chinese country is skewing the statistics regarding what”Death by COVID-19″ actually is (I’m looking at you, Italy) and the plain and simple fact that not only do the testing protocols vary from country-to-country, they frequently vary between health systems in a single country.

Too long; didn’t read:

Stop panicking over the mortality percentage. It’s artificially elevated, and will only come down as testing improves.

Comments closed, because quite frankly the pearl-clutching is grating my nerves something fierce.


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