Clearly, it’s not just increased testing. We have a real problem.
The number of reported COVID-19 cases in California has risen dramatically. What’s going on, and what should be done about it? The situation has changed so rapidly that I’ve had to rewrite this story repeatedly since I began work on it last week. Early Last Week When I started work on the story a week …CONTINUE READING
Evident-Resistant Reasoning DIsorder can strike without warning.
A stubborn disagreement. A misguided tweet or facebook post. A lame remark. Those things can be normal behaviors. But they could be signs of something much more serious: a syndrome called Evidence-Resistant Reasoning Disorder or ERRD-16. This disorder has expanded explosively since a mutated form was introduced by a super-spreader in 2016. This super-spreader is …CONTINUE READING
The threat of COVID-19 continues to loom over us.
We’re all sick of being locked down, and the economic downturn has been brutal. There’s a palpable sense that it’s time to put the coronavirus behind us and move on. Unfortunately, the coronavirus does not agree. People now seem used to the idea of hundreds of new coronavirus deaths a day. Yet, even 500 deaths …CONTINUE READING
Shaky legal authority, poor analysis, dubious benefits. What else is new?
In an Executive Order issued last Thursday, Trump told agencies to use emergency waivers to avoid environmental safeguards. The order is legally shaky and unlikely to accomplish much. Still, it provided a nice photo op. Maybe he should have signed it in front of a church. I’ll talk later about the specifics, but first I’d …CONTINUE READING
Unbeknownst to many, the WHO does important work on pollution problems.
Withdrawing from international cooperation in the midst of global pandemic is an idea that’s just as bad as it sounds. President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the WOrld Health Organization (WHO) withdrawal will also be harmful in other ways. Notably, a major component of the WHO’s work involves the health impacts of pollution and dangerous …CONTINUE READING
Eyeballing trends in the epidemic? Proceed with caution!
Many of us anxiously scan coronavirus statistics, looking at trends and cross-country comparisons. Warning: We need to be cautious in interpreting those numbers. There’s lots of noise in the data, meaning that it’s not always an accurate measure of what we want to know about the disease. Even death counts are not always reliable — …CONTINUE READING
How Anti-Public Health Messages and Activities Spread
Like a virus, misinformation can spread within a population. It has its super-spreaders, just like the coronavirus. It can mutate in ways that make it more contagious. And it can be weaponized. Research into networks of coronavirus-related communication has revealed how both true and false information spread through social media . Misinformation can spread like …CONTINUE READING
We’ve seen some great examples of how NOT to deal with models.
Models have figured heavily in government responses to the coronavirus. This has given us the opportunity for a real-time lesson in the uses of models. In the process, we’ve learned some important lessons in how to best make use of models — and equally importantly, in how not to use them. That’s directly relevant to …CONTINUE READING
The Progressive-Leaning Democrat has more in common with Donald Trump than you might think.
Willful bungling of the coronavirus crisis cuts across ideologies and political parties. That’s the lesson that we learn from the story of Bill de Blasio. He is very different, across many different dimensions, than Donald Trump. But it turns out that he shares something important with Trump: a tendency to place personality over expertise. De …CONTINUE READING
Alas, that light at the end of the tunnel is still very far away from us.
World War I lasted four years, with millions of deaths. At the start, however, many people thought the war would be quick and easy. “Home by Christmas,” was what they said about their troops. A frightening number of Americans now have similar illusions about the coronavirus pandemic. According to a CNN poll a released Tuesday, …CONTINUE READING