Was abusing our children’s patience by walking through the 3-step process by which science is reported in popular media, as follows:
- Somebody does a study.
- Study author gets interviewed by a journalist, who writes something up.
- Editors and headlines writers take a crack at it.
What could possibly go wrong? Let me count the ways:
- Study is a piece of crap. My own private unpublished but peer-reviewed (I asked my son about it) study says: 95% of all studies you hear about on the news are crap. Prove me wrong.
- You’d need a microscope see the chances the ‘journalist’ understands enough science to hold a printed copy of the study right side up. He couldn’t identify scientific evidence if it climbed into his lap and kissed him square on the lips. Basically, he got the gig because he was less terrified (or a more dogmatic SJW) than the rest of the reporting pool.
- If, by some slim chance, anything accurate and useful made it into the article, an editor, who understand less science than even the reporter, is virtually guaranteed to screw it up. He’ll punch it up by making the opening paragraph as scary as possible, regardless of anything so mundane and boring as evidence.
- The headline writer knows even less science than the clown parade that produced and edited the report he’s now skimming. He slaps an apocalyptical headline on it designed to get clicks. Thus, every warm day becomes global warming doom, every plastic straw is causing the extinction of cute little turtles, every remote possibility something might go wrong becomes the end of the world, even if the headline writer has to make it up.
- Your average reader, if he even gets past the headline, stops after the first paragraph, where the editor did his job ‘punching it up’ by featuring gloom and doom.
And that’s if the people involved are trying, somewhat, to play it straight. If they have an agenda – I slay me! – it’s much worse.
Moral: if you heard about some science-y sounding thing on the news, it’s wrong. Just assume it’s wrong – the times you’ll be mistaken are negligible, and the disgrace you’ll suffer minimized.
(Aside: this is why Sagan was so popular: most scientists are (or at least were) very careful, and really hoped they could explain what they were up to. How boring is that? Plus, it makes you feel stupid. Sagan flattered the idiots, explained nothing, but put on quite the show. He knew the people publishing articles and producing TV shows didn’t want to feel stupid, were not going to put much effort into understanding anyway, so he just used his stolen glory as a scientist to sell them Scientism. This has born fruit, in the form of millions of Americans thinking they ‘believe the science’ whenever they fall in line with whatever the Officially Approved Authority Figure (an AAUF, pronounced ‘oof’ ) is saying at the moment.)
As I long promised, I’m plowing through the 2020 CDC death data to determine, as much as possible, how many people the d*mn virus can plausibly be said to have killed.
As predicted, the data is now still harder to find – the All Deaths data, which used to be a couple clicks in from the CDC front page, is now very hard to find – at least, it’s not obvious. After scanning the pages and searching using the CDC’s search box for the very specific title of the page, which I knew because I have that YouTube video by a Dr. Briand from John Hopkins wherein she analyzes the CDC numbers, I ended up snipping a tiny corner of her PowerPoint, expanding it, then manually typing in the wee fuzzy web address – and it came up. So, the data is still there as of today, it’s just not easy (possible?) to find from the CDC front page. I’m grabbing/downloading and backing up everythng.
About that main page – sheer, poisonous fear-mongering. They show 350K COVID death, just stated as a fact on Page 1 – their data, once I found it, showed 300K deaths involving COVID. So, where do those extra 50K dead people come from, if they’re not, you know, there in the CDC’s own numbers? No explanation is offered. Just shut up and be very afraid. Then, they have warnings about the danger to young people and children, how we need to be very afraid – while their numbers show – hell, take a look:
There were 149,198,677 Americans 34 and under, of whom 118,384 died in 2020. Of those poor souls, the deaths of 2,672 ‘involved’ COVID, meaning, if you were under 35, you stood a 0.00179% chance of dying of COVID last year. Slightly worse than your risk of dying of a shark attack or lightning strike. If you were one of the 103,258,356 Americans under 25, a sad 54,830 of your age cohort died last year, a whopping 585 of whose deaths ‘involved’ COVID. If you’re under 25, your chances of dying from COVID last year were 0.00057%. Slightly worse than getting hit by meteorite – but not by enough to worry about.
Before you dare mention lung damage, or lingering problems, or any other reason young people should be masked & locked up, one rule: show me the damn data. I don’t want to hear about some anecdote you heard on CNN – show. Me. The. Data.
I note one last thing from the CDC data now, with more to come when I’ve gotten a chance to digest the data: the overall death rate in the US in 2020, pending, of course, updates that should roll in over the next couple weeks and push it ever so slightly up, was 0.884. That’s 884 deaths per 100,000 Americans. Back in May, I looked up the UN’s 2020 projected death rate prior to COVID, and it was 0.888. This number just comes from extrapolating from long-term tends, nothing special, but, barring a deadly pandemic or other disaster, such a method should produce a pretty accurate forecast. So it looks like the US, despite a raging pandemic that’s killed, they say, 350K people, will have had pretty much the same number of dead people in 2020 as projected before the pandemic. Huh.