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how to lie with data: UK variants edition
percentages without context can sound scary. often they aren't.
even at a time when many of the most stalwart purveyors of covid fear have packed their tents and gone home, the truly dedicated remain. and thus it is that we find, once more, that grandiose abuser of emojis 🙀 🙀 ⚡ , eric ding at the fore of the fear, pushing scare stories about variants.
he implores us to “pay attention!” but when one does, this rapidly evaporates as anything resembling a matter about which to be concerned. this is a master class in using data to mislead and alarm.
it’s now 50% of cases in england and rising fast! that can sound quite worrying if shorn of context. the curve looks extremely steep when we zoom in on his log scale cases chart. this makes it look like a big rise. (and perhaps like it was graffitied by a naughty schoolboy and i’m not quire sure what to make of that. perhaps eric needs detention?)
but the reality looks nothing at all like this. and by nothing, i mean, absolutely nothing. here’s UK cases. they are making lows and show no sign of rising. if this chart looks like “be very scared” to you, well, i’m just not quite sure what to say. cases are down 97% since january and the january peak was not even a real peak.
this is the raw data for positive tests. it’s as much data artifact as data.
as can be readily seen, the testing rate was MUCH higher and, as we all know, discussing case counts without reference to testing rate is tantamount to lying.
so let’s get some truth, shall we?
this is what UK case data looks like adjusted for sample rate. not much like the raw data, is it?
this makes it even more clear: the peak in january 2021 was about 1/3 the height of the one in last april. current case counts have collapsed and been extremely low for two months. nothing is spiking.
deaths are less than 1 per 10 million population and dropping.
and yet eric is just not giving up the game. “look at the dominance!”
yes, let’s, because that dominance is doing nothing. it’s not making cases spike or deaths spike. if this is the effect this variant has then why would anyone be scared of it?
this is not a devil. it’s not even an imp. using a spike in %’s as though it somehow offsets the massive drop in cases and deaths is just dishonest.
as has so often been the case, we have nothing to fear but fearmongers themselves…