Covid19 Bullshit for Dummies

Do you ever wonder how dangerous Covid19 is? If it’s getting better, or worse? If the things we’re being forced to do are helping?

Excellent places to not learn anything are the NYT, WaPo, CNN, MSNBC, FOX, The Atlantic, Slate, Rolling Stone, CBC (sorry), BBC (sorry), political campaigns, the President, The Prime Minister, Dr. Fauci, facebook, google news, Drudge, Twitter, TickTok, Grindr.

The following graphs were all generated from the same dataset ( They were generated to illustrate how easy it is to use data to tell stories, also called lies.

Consider the first graph:

This is the graph I would choose if I wanted to tell a story about how badly the USA has managed the pandemic. And, if I were running for office, I would tell the story about how pathetically the folks in power – at least the ones I don’t like – managed things. If I were in power, or defending the budget of my Dept of Bureaucracy that was in some way supposed to help, I likely wouldn’t choose this graph. Perhaps, if I was attacking a competing Dept of Bureaucracy, it might be a good choice.

Certainly if I was frightened beyond belief of Covid19, I’d be angry about this one.

If I wanted to make the case that the lockdowns were necessary, and useful, I might start with a graph of the growth in “cases” (positive tests), and deaths, windowed for Mar-Apr. I would also use this to show that cases are leading, and proportional indicator of future deaths.

It’s important to note that deaths are on a different scale than cases. Hold that thought.

In Mar we didn’t have much information. We didn’t know when  the infection would stop, or why (we still don’t). We didn’t know that it isn’t deadly to a majority of people. For a worst case scenario one simply had to do a little linear extrapolation on the curves and see that

Very fortunately, the worst case is not what actually happened.

It’s important to note that deaths are on a different scale than cases. Hold that thought.

What actually happened is that cases continued to rise, roughly as predicted, but deaths no longer tracked cases.

Why? Perhaps …

  • Sending infected patients back to nursing homes was a bad idea.
  • Some demographics are highly vulnerable; many are highly resistant, and policy can be adjusted to save lives.
  • Medicine got better, and learned, quickly, how to save lives.
  • Lockdowns, The Grocery Dance, Social Masking, Karens, virgins in volcanoes, etc.
  • The virus seems to slow down dramatically long before the 60-70% immunity we have been told is God’s actual truth.

So, we don’t quite understand why, and maybe we got a bit lucky, but the news is all good.

Even this doesn’t tell the whole story. Let’s remove the scaling on deaths and place them on the same axis as cases. This gives a more accurate visualization of the danger of a positive test.

Now without the text, this graph clearly shows that cases don’t predict deaths. But with the text, it’s even more dramatic. Deaths have remained relatively constant even as the virus traveled geographically (South and West), and impacted as vastly larger population.

Finally, lets remove all scaling and look at cases, deaths, and tests.

One might conclude from this that testing cures Covid19. That is counter-intuitive, and likely asinine, but “supported by the data”.

I’ll leave it as an exercise to form an opinion about how effective the world government’s response has been.

They will do better with your colonoscopy.


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