Bad Statistics About Coronavirus

8
1300

From our Swindon correspondent:

 

EUjJBuMWsAAW6lP.jpg
So, the government and Public Health England (PHE) are banging on about this uptick in road traffic. Bear in mind, the main person talking about this is Professor Yvonne Doyle, a qualified doctor and medical director at PHE.
It would be comforting in these times to have people who one thought had a good grasp of statistics in government, maybe a transport minister who understands traffic patterns who can talk to one of the 18,000 minions working with him to see if there might be a reason before tweeting about it.
Anyone who understands stats knows that you don’t base anything on 1 data point. Maybe there’s a freak reason for it. There’s never a need to get worried. People running anything should know that. “OK, that’s odd”. Make a cup a tea and come back to it the next day and see if it’s still happening.

But I suspect this can be dismissed by something we all know very well: the roads are generally busier on Mondays. That uptick is from Sunday to Monday. If you look closely, it’s roughly where Thursday and Friday the previous week were. This is normal. This is why the congestion charge doesn’t apply on weekends: London’s congestion problem is mostly Monday to Friday.

Now, OK, this hasn’t been seen for a few weeks, but I suspect this effect has been masked by more and more people switching to working from home, but at a certain point, you’re going to hit a base level which includes only the necessary workers, and for a lot of them, they still skew towards Monday to Friday. Your bins are collected on a weekday, farmers markets take place on weekdays, you won’t get a PC repaired on a weekend and so forth.

Seriously, why do we hand over a combined £8.7bn to PHE and the DoT when they can’t do stats properly?

8
Leave a Reply

avatar
2 Comment threads
6 Thread replies
6 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
6 Comment authors
jghQuentin VolePhoenix44SpikeItellyounothing Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
jgh
Guest
jgh

There was exactly the same uptick exactly 14 days ago, also to exactly the same level as three days previously, also a rebound from a weekend dip. They should be using something like 3-day averages and ignoring the most recent three days.

Phoenix44
Guest
Phoenix44

Or just a seven day moving average, so you always capture the weekend in the data.

jgh
Guest
jgh

And lo! The graph displayed two days later shows a continuing trend from the previous week.

John B
Guest
John B

‘Anyone who understands stats knows that you don’t base anything on 1 data point.’

Anyone who understands stats is not in Government. All Government policy is based on the datum that justifies it taking ever more power and control.

Itellyounothing
Guest
Itellyounothing

Government is Geography students, all the way down. Sometimes its called PPE or SPS, but it’s just posh Geography.

Spike
Guest
Spike

No, even Geography students learn stuff and take exams. Government is Grievance Studies grads. Sociology, perhaps.

Phoenix44
Guest
Phoenix44

Depends what you mean by government. There is a tiny number of MPs who did Maths, and only a slightly better number who did proper sciences. There are apparently twice as many History, Archeology and Anthropology graduates as Science grads.

Quentin Vole
Guest
Quentin Vole

Part of the explanation is that with a STEM degree, you can get a real job. With an arts degree, you’ve a choice (in decreasing order of remuneration) of management consultancy, politics, teaching or burger flipping. For those too dim for consultancy, wotcha gonna do?