There’s Evidence And Then There’s Prejudice About Covid-19

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This is an elegant little dance, a paso doble around the actual evidence to draw us to a preconceived conclusion. What we might call policy based evidence making:

All of a sudden, and after years of bluffing, conservatives are warning of the dangers of jumping to hasty conclusions. Before I go any further, I must therefore say our newly scrupulous masters have a point. The league tables of national Covid-19 death figures are not the last word on the crisis, and may look different in a few weeks. That’s that done, then. Everybody happy? Good. Let’s get on with it.

That’s the first pass, look how reasonable I am. And now comes the second step:

In the world as it is, rather than as it may be, a shameful fact is undeniable. The highest Covid-19 casualties are in the US and the UK, where the mendacities of the populist right have deformed society. It turns out that being governed by Anglo-Saxon conservatives is a threat to the health of nations. Their rule kills the old and blights the futures of the young. To understand their ineptitude, think of how conservatism turned into a know-nothing culture in the past decade, and ask what Donald Trump and Boris Johnson would be doing in an alternative universe where they never came close to power.

Orange Man Bad, Tories are Bastards and look, look, here is my proof! At which point I can then go on to talk about Orange Man Bad, Tory Bastards and so on.

The problem with this being that the evidence being called upon isn’t true. Isn’t true in the slightest. This following in from Johns Hopkins, well enough out of the way of the British political scene that we can take it as being impartial to those Tory Bastard claims:

Deaths from Covid-19 per 100,000 of population

Note how the fact on offer is completely untrue. Simply wrong.

I mean sure, Orange Man Bad, Tories are Bastards and all that but can’t we have even a modicum of actual evidence at the beginning of the proof of such?

By the way health care spending in Belgium is higher, as a percentage of GDP, than it is in the UK. Also, marginally, true in Spain and Italy.

But anyway, Orange Bad, Tories Bastards, and what else does The Observer need to open a piece?

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Pat
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Pat

So Khan, Cuomo and De Blasio are Conservatives??

Chester Draws
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Chester Draws

Scott Morrison is.

Justin Trudeau isn’t.

They even had to cherry pick their Anglo-Saxon politicians.

Esteban
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Esteban

In the U.S. Democrat governors ordered nursing homes to accept transfers from hospitals without testing or limitations. Their fear of hospitals being overrun was so great they sent infected people into nursing homes. Note that they didn’t wait until it was absolutely necessary to clear space.

But it’s the fault of OMB!

Spike
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Spike

This transfer of foxes into chicken coops was the policy of New York State. Pat did mention Governor Cuomo above.

Again, it is CDC policy to overcount COVID deaths, and the same results in an instant bonus under the CARES Act. So our numbers are still junk. Deliberately; it prolongs the panic and keeps the CDC on center stage.

Esteban
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Esteban

I’m still waiting to see the graph that shows countries ranked by the number of survivors and/or recovered Kung Flu cases.

john77
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john77

THe NHS is spectacularly bad on that count, which is a second reason why I don’t go out and clap (the first is that it is an empty gesture parading a pretentios pretend virtue)

Bloke in North Dorset
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Bloke in North Dorset

As I’ve pointed elsewhere, define recovered.

My brother spent 8 days on a ventilator, 6 weeks later he’s still shuffling round his house but was able to give up the Zimmerframe a couple of days ago.

There’s some reports of long term lung and other organ damage that will mean people needing long term care.

Esteban
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Esteban

The point was that because the U.S. is large it will have more people in any category – recovered, uninfected, tested negative, etc. So if it’s fair to say they suck because they have a large number infected or dead, it’s also fair to point out how great they are because 330 million have survived so far.

Addolff
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Addolff

Al Jazeerah mentioning the number of cases in Brazil (Far right Bolsanaro bad OK).

Most deaths in South America – 10, 661. Ooh, scary – No mention of their population – 209 Million.
Serious question (i know the answer to) – are these media / political leftist type people fucking mad?

If I didn’t know better I’d swear there was some sort of conspiracy at work.

john77
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john77

“The right cannot resist a cultural war against the ‘liberal elite’ even now”
Possibly because the ‘liberal elite’ (who are more “liberal” than elite – even I have more right to be described as elite than Nick Cohen) have been waging war against the moderate right since they de-merged from the Stalinophiles. Lying comes naturally to the ‘liberal elite’: he refers to *another* Grauniad article which mis-states ONS numbers to make the UK data look worse (why bother? the NHS has done an appalling job on keeping alive those entering hospital)

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

I’m pretty sure you’ve more right to be described as ‘liberal’. than Nick Cohen, who would just love to have been a Nazi Gauleiter, given half a chance.

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

No comments allowed on the Observer article. I’m shocked, shocked!

Nigel Sedgwick
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Nigel Sedgwick

I too worry a lot about those sorts of figures. However, I’d also (particularly for underground trains and population density effects) like to see London and UK minus London – thenn NYC and USA minus NYC. Any chance please Tim?

Keep safe and best regards

Barks
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Barks

The USA and NY numbers are around out there. Haven’t seen the American for U.K./London. Take NY numbers out of the US totals (both population and croakers) and the US slides into a very favorable position for a vast country with widely varying populations about.

Bongo
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Bongo

That’s one study you can do yourself. London rather conveniently has mainly underground north of the river and overground rail south. Further out of London the underground itself emerges from the tunnelled sections and becomes overground.
So is there a correlation between case rates of CV-19 and being in a borough where the underground underground is?

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

I think Nigel is using ‘underground’ as shorthand for TfL. I don’t think anyone would argue that there would be more CV-19 transmission within a crowded tube train (whether above or below ground) than on a packed SWT surface line.

HJ777
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HJ777

The article is by Nick Cohen. What did you expect – correct data and a reasoned argument?

Esteban
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Esteban

Took a moment for this Q to pop into my head – is the writer this dumb or this dishonest? Do we go with “never assume malice when incompetence is sufficient”?

Spike
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Spike

I wouldn’t. You don’t write an op-ed because you’re incompetent; you write one because you have a thesis you wish to develop, and a great many of these are malicious. You use non-population-normed figures simply because those are the ones that support your point.