Opinion

Garbage In, Garbage Out

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Posted: May 17, 2020 12:01 AM
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
Garbage In, Garbage Out

Source: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

The only way to learn anything from an experience is to have accurate information about it when you’re through it. It’s called “learning from your mistakes.” People do it all the time. It’s how we get better as human beings. Thomas Edison reportedly said, “I didn’t fail. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work,” about creating the lightbulb. Politicians, on the other hand, are incapable, or at least unwilling, of learning from the mistakes they’re making because they believe they’re benefiting from the disinformation. And we’re all going to suffer because of it.

How many people have died from COVID-19? You can cite the official numbers, which vary depending on your source. They’re horrific, of course, but are they anywhere close to accurate?

Dr. Anthony Fauci testified this week that the number is probably higher, Dr. Deborah Birx, it was reported last week, thinks the number may be inflated by as much as 25 percent. Who is right? We don’t know.

Fauci didn’t cite much beyond his belief, which doesn’t hold that much water considering he’s held opposite positions on everything from the wearing of masks to whether or not coronavirus was a serious threat to Americans during the early stages of the pandemic. Birx didn’t cite much either, sharing an equally bad track record of prognostication.

The truth is we have no idea.

Back in March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines that nearly ensured anything we could learn from this pandemic, either to help us now or help people in the future, would be absolutely worthless.

A directive entitled, “New ICD code introduced for COVID-19 deaths,” concluded with how to count deaths. It reads, “COVID-19 should be reported on the death certificate for all decedents where the disease caused or is assumed to have caused or contributed to death.” The part in bold was done by them. 

What does that mean? It means that if tests weren’t conducted on people who died with any of the countless, ever-evolving symptoms assigned to coronavirus, count them anyway. It doesn’t matter if they have stage-4 cancer, kidney failure, pretty much anything short of a wrought iron spike sticking out of their heads -- count it.

Couple that with financial incentives in government payment rates, called reimbursements, for treating COVID-19 patients and you begin to see how inflating the number of deaths was both encouraged and incentivized. 

That’s the garbage in – junk numbers that don’t reflect reality. You get only garbage out when you put garbage in.

Science is the favorite buzzword of the left – Democrats are, they’ll happily tell you, the “party of science.” Thursday, for some random reason that perfectly encapsulates both how corrupted the media has become and how the left simply uses the word “science” in the absence of knowledge or facts, Anderson Cooper interviewed high school drop-out Greta Thunberg about coronavirus. In one 1:25 clip, together they used some variation of the word “science” 11 times without saying anything.

But science is needed, now more than ever. Unfortunately, true science needs more than buzz. It requires data; real, accurate data, from which to draw conclusions and prove anything. Corrupt data in means garbage out.

As we navigate this pandemic, public officials are making decisions based on that flawed data. Moreover, when future generations experience a pandemic (and they will), they will look back to now for guidance and they won’t find it. Worse, they’ll find inaccurate data and assume it’s good. 

That we don’t have accurate, extensive data from the 1918 Spanish Flu isn’t surprising, the technology to collect it across the country didn’t exist then. It exists now, and we’re blowing it. Either for reasons of panic, incompetence, or corruption, we are not working off of or gathering truthful information that will help anyone, now or in the future, make informed decisions. 

This reality hasn’t stopped anyone from making declarative statements as if they have truth on their side, nor has it stopped the media from spreading, unquestioningly, those half-truths and lies. Worse, it’s driving everything federal, state, and local governments are imposing on people. 

Some Governors are bucking this trend, asking the right questions, and going in a different direction. So far, it’s working out in their favor. But the “garbage in, garbage out” model is still in full operation almost elsewhere else, and it’s unlikely to change anytime soon. 

The fear is, even if those governors succeed, others are so wed to the garbage model that if they ever do come around it will be too late. The damage will be done. Without insisting on correct and accurate data, unlike Edison who learned from his failures, our political leaders won’t be able to apply anything from this pandemic to the future, we’ll only learn to fail further.  

President Trump, I hope you’re listening, because you’re the only person who can insist on, and order, any changes to this.

Derek Hunter is the host of a free daily podcast (subscribe!), host of a daily radio show on WCBM in Maryland, and author of the book, Outrage, INC., which exposes how liberals use fear and hatred to manipulate the masses. Follow him on Twitter at @DerekAHunter.