Maybe there's a reason why dire projections about COVID-19 have been wrong
COVID-19 has proven to be a brutal flu for those unlucky enough to get it. Any new disease that's successfully left animals behind for human-to-human transmission is highly risky. Nevertheless, the current insanity gripping the world is based upon highly dubious computer models, making those models as dangerous as a virus.
On March 9, MSNBC's Chris Hayes attacked Trump for trying to manipulate downward the expert projections about COVID-19 deaths. One month later, Hayes was back, attacking Trump for intentionally manipulating the numbers upward:
The most cynical interpretation of all this, one I can't quite bring myself to accept, is they rolled out the model showing 100k deaths after they knew it would be less than that so they could anchor everyone to that # and take a vicotry lap when "only" tens of thousands died. https://t.co/hYiUCHhO5g— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) April 8, 2020
Hayes is an unprincipled moron who will say anything to hurt Trump, but his monomania highlights how very wrong the original high-death predictions have proven to be. The Washington Post’s Philip Bump tried to explain away one set of wildly inflated predictions by saying the experts were accurate but that later behavioral changes caused lower numbers:
A notable shift downward in projected deaths from coronavirus is already being spun as "experts were wrong!!" instead of "hey, the thing experts said would drive down deaths might be driving down deaths."https://t.co/HpUPAyc5tx pic.twitter.com/XLPD39dQfF— Philip Bump (@pbump) April 9, 2020
The problem is that the model Bump looks to assumed 100% social distancing, which hasn't happened:
The IHME models assumed “full social distancing,” including school closures, business shutdowns, and stay-at-home lockdowns from the beginning. It requires abject stupidity or outright dishonesty to claim “social distancing” caused the model revisions. https://t.co/8tsFzlNVIN— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) April 9, 2020
Alex Berenson, a former New York Times writer, is also taking apart the modeling. He most recently focused on Ohio's attempt to do statistical time travel:
2/ The state’s “unmitigated” model “projects” that without mitigation, the peak of 62,000 will occur (will HAVE OCCURED, to be more accurate) on March 22... pic.twitter.com/7kqrNbRuBP— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) April 9, 2020
4/ Folks, at this point it’s like an exercise to see if anyone is paying attention, a combination of a national folie a deux and Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy. WHAT IS GOING ON?— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) April 9, 2020
There are barely even verb tenses adequate to explain what the Ohio graphs purportedly show.— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) April 9, 2020
The mother of all modeling when it comes to COVID-19 is Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London. It was he who first said 500,000 people in England would die, and another 2.2 million in America unless drastic steps were taken. Then, when both countries panicked, he came out with a new, downgraded model (one that still overstates the reality).
Ferguson was presented to the world as one of the world's foremost epidemiologists and modelers. Perhaps we should have learned more about him before accepting that claim. With help from Bill Steigerwald, Power Line has an exposé that gives us more information about Ferguson.
It turns out that, in 2005, Ferguson had some predictions about the Bird Flu. He estimated 200,000,000 deaths worldwide. In fact, in the last 17 years, there've been 455 diagnosed Bird Flu deaths.
But anyone is entitled to make one little 199,999,545-person error, right? Well, maybe. But what about two such errors?
Dr. Ferguson was equally off with his death projections for mad cow disease. He made big headlines in the United Kingdom by predicting that mad cow disease could kill between 50 and 50,000. Bill writes: "Millions of cows were slaughtered. But to be fair, his scientific 'model' was right. The death toll [is 178 to date]."
But wait! There's more. Ferguson also refuses to share his methodology with other scientists:
Several researchers have apparently asked to see Imperial's calculations, but Prof. Neil Ferguson, the man leading the team, has said that the computer code is 13 years old and thousands of lines of it "undocumented," making it hard for anyone to work with, let alone take it apart to identify potential errors. He has promised that it will be published in a week or so, but in the meantime reasonable people might wonder whether something made with 13-year-old, undocumented computer code should be used to justify shutting down the economy.
Ferguson is the modern equivalent of the man standing on the street corner, screaming at passersby, "The end is near." Neither is correct; both are insane. Yet this is the man who has shut down America's economy.
It's time to stop listening to this particular crazy man, put on our masks, and restart the economy. Also, wise people should understand that this is a lesson about the limitations of models, including those predicting catastrophic anthropogenic climate change for which the only cure is world socialism.
Date corrected to March 8 in paragraph 2.