UPDATE: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics


This is going to be really important — it is likely that states like Idaho will see a rise in “cases” in the near term as the state finally pointed out today:

Health officials from South Central Public Health District are alerting residents that as organizations undergoing cluster testing for COVID-19 can expect to see a rise in confirmed cases.

It’s unfortunate that the state didn’t go further to explain what’s really going on and it’s also unfortunate that they’ve invented the new term “cluster testing” rather than “hot spot” or “breakout.” I suppose they were trying to find softer words.

As I’ve also pointed out, we’re no longer testing randomly so that the total number of cases in Idaho no longer tells us much about how the virus is spreading. My suspicion is that the MSM is going to get this totally wrong. We’ll see.


Here is the latest data for Idaho:

Let’s do the MSM analysis of this data. “Covid-19 is running rampant through the Hispanic population of Idaho! Hispanics make up about 12% of the population of Idaho but are suffering 24% of the cases! Also, people being hit are 18-29 years of age! The good news is that everyone below the age of 18 or over 80 years old seems to be good to go!”

(UPDATE: I should be clear that I was sarcastically suggesting that this is what the MSM would likely say based on a literal interpretation of the numbers. I haven’t seen anyone here jump to these silly conclusions . . . YET).

And now here’s my interpretation. “What seems clear to me is that we’re oversampling Hispanic farm laborers which would be a good idea since they tend to work in close proximity to one another particularly in meat packing operations.”

Once upon a time, Idaho only tested people with symptoms but that is no longer the case. There is a non-profit called Crush the Curve, organized by various businesses, doing antibody testing for anyone that wants one and willing to spend $100 (or have that expense covered by their employer).

About a dozen workers at a local food plant recently tested positive. The plant was shut down on Sunday. The belief is that some workers got together socially which spread the virus. Crush the Curve will be testing all 260 employees at the plant.

The point here is that there’s clearly a need for testing of the general population as a means of understanding the spread of the virus. However, this kind of shotgun testing uses a lot of resources to gather “data” but doesn’t really do anything to stop the spread.

What needs to happen and what seems to be happening is that the grand total of testing will become completely irrelevant if it hasn’t done so already. In its place will be much more focused testing. I think it will take a longer time to happen than it should because there is so much momentum for getting the testing numbers up rather than any consideration of why we’re testing and what we hope to accomplish.

In the case of the food plant, what you’d certainly like to do is test all of the employees immediately so that you can open the plant with those that are negative or have antibodies. You’d also like to contact trace those that are positive and have any of those people people that also test positive enter a quarantine along with the workers who tested positive. This whole part is “in theory” but it seems to be the best we have today.

Coming back to the test data, my fear is that the media will get it more and more wrong. Many still get the entire concept of what it meant to “flatten the curve” wrong (which was to ensure hospital resources weren’t overwhelmed) much less trying to interpret data on whether things are getting better or worse on a day to day basis.

Another area the media constantly gets wrong is what a “case” is. A case is a positive lab test or a clinical diagnosis. The fact that someone tests positive could be:

  1. A false positive
  2. An indication that the virus is in their nose but they may or may not be sick.
  3. They had the virus in the case of an antibody test.

There’s an additional level of sophistication required to understand that a dozen cases in a food plant that also includes how its being contained is much harder to communicate than Idaho just saw it’s confirmed cases jump as testing focuses directly on outbreaks. It’s not nearly as sensational either.

Mark Rosneck

Written by Mark Rosneck

Site owner and bilagáana


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