In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies. — Winston Churchill (from here (winstonchurchill.org))
How do we make sense of what we are being told about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) statistics? Does the threat posed by that virus justify shutting down our economy, not sending our children to school, closing our churches, and isolating ourselves from each other?
Whenever we want to figure out how much we can trust information, the first thing we usually want to know is where that information came from and how we are supposed to use it. That requires us to do a little work. However, if we are lazy we can just accept what the “experts” tell us, but that is problematic. Since the “experts” may have their own agenda, if we just listen to the “experts” we become the tools of those “experts”.
So, how do we learn about Coronavirus (COVID-19) statistics? We can try to use an Internet search engine. Let’s compare search engines, Google and Bing. Let’s us both in a search: can we trust the coronavirus covid-19 statistics.
The top three hits on Google?
- Coronavirus statistics: what can we trust and what should we ignore? (theguardian.com, 4/12/2020): This article goes through which statistics are important and how to evaluate those numbers.
- Why I no longer trust most virus statistics (epatientdave.com, 4/13/2020): The epatient explains his skepticism by pointing how all the holes in the data, that is, we don’t know enough to reach a conclusion.
- Which Covid-19 Data Can You Trust? (hbr.org, 5/8/2020): Here several academics suggest we look carefully at the people providing us the numbers. Are the hiding stuff from us, for example? Are they making modest assertions about what the data shows?
The top three hits on Bing (Note: The third article was about the trustworthiness of China’s statistics. So I skipped to the fourth hit.)
- 10 Reasons to Doubt the Covid-19 Data (bloomberg.com, 4/13/2020): The primary concern here (It is not stated.) seems to be that the number of COVID-19 deaths is being undercounted.
- Coronavirus Epidemic in America? Can We Trust the Data? How Much Does it Cost to Get a COVID-19 Test? (globalresearch.ca, 3/27/2020): GlobalResearch is supposedly a run by a conspiracy theorist. GlobalResearch’s complaint is the cost of a test. Given the Federal Government pays for the uninsured and those on Medicare and Medicaid, this is now a minor issue (A coronavirus test could cost as little as $20 or as much as $850 (cnn.com)). What insurance company is going to take that $850 seriously?
- How to Understand COVID-19 Numbers (propublica.org, 7/21/2020): This article is good in the sense that it is current and detailed. The authors also do not their hide the bias against President Trump. Hence, we can read it with open eyes. The authors have an objective, getting us to see the numbers the way they do. They believe the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is beginning to rage out of control.
What do all these articles neglect to mention? Why is the data so dubious? There is an obvious reason. The death rate from COVID-19 is quite low. The numbers of COVID-19 related deaths are small enough we have trouble distinguishing them from the baseline. Some of us are dying every day, COVID-19 or no COVID-19.
COVID-19 does not kill robustly healthy people. Healthy people may not even notice they have the virus. Instead, COVID-19 kills people who are quite old or already seriously weakened. That makes COVID-19 statistics difficult to collect.
COVID-19 is an unseen enemy because it is not a truly dangerous illness. This disease is so mild we don’t even know for certain who has the virus. Even when someone dies we are uncertain when to assign the cause of death to COVID-19.
Therefore, when the Coronavirus (COVID-19) rages out of control, is it a big deal? Well, the news media has made a big deal of it. The news media has played upon our fear of the unknown. COVID-19 is an unfamiliar threat, supposedly a novel virus.
None of us want to die. None of us want those we love to die. We want the risk of death to be zero, but we will all die, every single one of us. We cannot avoid death. We cannot reduce the risk of death to zero. We can only prepare our souls for death.
Matthew 16:24-26 New King James Version
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
Meanwhile, we live in this world. To live for Jesus we must accept risks, perhaps even small risks like the risk posed by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). To be free, we must live for Jesus. To have liberty, we must exercise our liberties for the sake of Jesus Christ.
What’s next? We will consider some specific data collection an reporting issues.
To Be Continued