Fighting With Facts

Use information research techniques to find reliable data.

The Tomato Story

My friend loves to grow vegetables and to play practical jokes.

He grows tomatoes from seed and then transplants them outside early in the spring.  The usually have a head start compared to other local tomatoes.  

Before anyone else has their tomatoes, he goes to the supermarket and buys "tomatoes on the vine" i.e. little clusters of three bright red tomatoes with stem, leaves, and short piece of vine attached.  

He then places them on his plant so they look like they are attached and calls his friends or neighbors over.  "Look what I have," he says.  And they gasp with disbelief.  After laughing hysterically, he tells them the truth.

I always scold him when he tells me this or early on I say, "Have you used your fake tomatoes yet?"

And he says, "They are not fake!"

And I say, "Fake they are indeed.  Your plant did not really produce those tomatoes."  

You are faking people out!

Which COVID Facts are Real!

A friend sent me a COVID Fact Sheet (see PDF to the right of this box called COVID-19 Tracker).  I sent him this reply.  He reported on a select set of facts that do not lead to anything conclusive.  What do you think?

"The Fact Sheet you sent me is available on the bank's website.  I went to their site and found it as one of their COVID daily reports.  But I am not sure of the purpose.  I seems prepared to reassure investors.  The data reported is about low levels of hospitalizations for COVID.  Does that mean there is a low threat?  I am suspect for any position paper, which this is, that does not provide its assumptions, purpose or conclusions.  For each chart, I state my one-sentence summary:

1-    Hospital occupancy rates with COVID are the same as any average year.

2-    Deaths as % share of hospitalizations is way down.

3-    Only those above 65 years old are dying.

4-    COVID deaths are only 10% of total deaths in the U.S.

5-    Share of inpatient beds for COVID is 20% or less.

6-    Many new cases for COVID are here, but few of them result in death.

7-    Positive tests as % of all new tests has flattened over time. .

This mistakenly implies therefore that your bank's customers that COVID is just a normal flu and they can rest assured that they should invest at full-steam-ahead.  But these numbers are not a review of the status of COVID nor any estimate of future trends."

So, dear Reader, what is your take?  There are sources and good ones.  But no interpretation is given of the data. Can one assume the conclusion is self evident? No.