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COVID-19 Cases or Deaths, and the Metrics That Matter

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

We live in the ironically named “information age.” In seconds, anyone can access the data which is literally at our fingertips, whether they are in an office, flying at 30,000 feet, or sitting at home on the toilet. There has never been a time in human history where information was so readily available. Unfortunately, the necessary skills demanded by such accessibility have not been developed, allowing the repeated and intentional misuse of information for cynical political gain.

Most recently, politicians and their mainstream media comrades have obsessed over the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases, with several new “hotspots” surfacing across the country. While the rise in cases is, indeed, cause for concern, it is important to notice that this metric has not been chosen because it is primarily relevant. It has been chosen because its representative graph elicits the most fear.

In reality, it is important to analyze the number of new cases as part of a broader analysis which takes in other important variables, such as death rate and hospitalization rate. Taking these into account offers a far more complex insight into our battle against the pandemic, with the death rate declining and the hospitalization rate rising in some states. This doesn’t mean that any of these metrics are unimportant or irrelevant. It does mean that “analysis” headlines such as “Rocketing Covid-19 infections expose Trump's callous claim pandemic is 'handled'” are dishonest, misleading, and intellectually diluted in order to promote a given narrative. Such arguments are often supplemented with logically redundant statements such as “the number of deaths is increasing.” Unless we have solved the issue of human mortality and can now reverse death, the only direction the number of deaths from any cause can ever move is upwards!

The prevalence of mathematical and statistical abuse across all aspects of our political discourse is deeply troubling if we hope to harness our informational bounty in the pursuit of truth. Whether it is the misuse of cherry-picked and curated statistics to promote the notion of systematic and racist police brutality, using an exception to prove the rule by claiming that abortion should be universally available (and even celebrated) to protect “women’s health,” or ignoring clear statistical evidence of bigotry in politically inconvenient areas, the misuse of information is a powerful weapon which we must protect against.

The list of such abuses stretches on, having a measurable impact on policy positions regarding gun control, immigration, and health care. The fact is that the intentional intellectual abuse of a populace by a ruling “elite” is nothing new, and it will only change when we demand it. For that to happen, we must take responsibility for developing our own understanding of key issues from an objective perspective. We must take responsibility for educating ourselves on the mathematical and statistical tools we hope to utilize for our own subjective objectives. Finally, we must take responsibility for pushing back against the usurpation of reality which has been permitted through laziness, convenience, or ignorance.

Only then can we develop the knowledge required to reach a nuanced and accurate conclusion and reject mathematical subjectivity when it inevitably occurs, inhibits the Left’s stranglehold on the narrative, and finally work in the pursuit of truth rather than the pursuit of victory.

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