5.4 C
Sunday, March 3, 2024

Scientific Integrity and COVID-19 | Nanotechnology Weblog

I’ve written about validating scientific findings beforehand.  With the present COVID-19 (coronavirus) state of affairs, there have been quite a few printed claims of varied “info”, that are based mostly on fashions.  It was solely a few months in the past that the information carried projections of 8 billion folks being contaminated and 80 million folks dying.  That later quantity was diminished to 40 million.  Within the US, there have been projections of as much as 3 million folks in america dying, which quantity has been constantly diminished to probably a most of 200,000, however with a risk of the quantity being a lot decrease.  The present variety of reported deaths is simply over 60,000 as I write this weblog.

The “info” two months in the past had been 80 million worldwide would
die, and now that quantity is at the moment at 226,882 world-wide who’ve died (up to date
April 30, 2020) with a projected complete to be within the mid to higher 100,000s.  This present development signifies that the full
quantity might be lower than 1% of the unique projection!  What occurred?  There are quite a lot of questions that should be
answered, however that must be carried out by the builders of the mannequin. 

The difficulty that might be addressed beneath is why fashions and the
subsequent outcomes should be understood in an effort to accurately clarify what the
“info” offered truly imply.

First, the knowledge supplied as “info” weren’t “info”
however projections based mostly on somebody’s mannequin of the state of affairs.  A remark years in the past by a buddy, Professor
Bob Shannon of Texas A&M defined it effectively. 
“All fashions are WRONG, some are helpful!”   A robust assertion, which we’ll discover.  

Why are all fashions improper? 
The reply is that fashions are based mostly on assumption.  (I’ve spent appreciable time working in
modeling.) The mannequin is barely as appropriate because the mathematical description of the
object being evaluated, the accuracy of the assumptions being made, the
inclusion of all the important thing variables, and an estimate of the in all probability of the variables
occurring.  Normally fashions are constructed,
examined, modified, examined once more, and eventually run a number of occasions over a set of
possibilities.  The resultant solutions
yield a potential projection with a chance vary.  There are often outcomes that present the
extremes in addition to probably the most possible. 
Due to this fact, the ANSWER is just not a single quantity however a variable with a
chance vary based mostly on sure assumptions. 
Discover the phrase “assumptions”, it’s plural.  The outcomes of the mannequin are solely pretty much as good as
the assumptions.  When you have no idea the
assumptions, you might be unable to guage the outcomes from the mannequin.  As well as, fashions should be improved as
the evaluation continues.  That is why it
is known as modeling.  There are some
solutions that the essential virus impression mannequin has not modified. [Ref. #1]  That in itself is uncommon.  Fashions should be frequently up to date to replicate
studying from earlier variations.

A commentary by Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. [Ref. #2] gives
ideas in regards to the media not having the ability to perceive multivariate.  That is the truth that issues usually are not easy
“if A, then B”.  A brief model of this
is: “When it rains, Jack at all times wears a hat”. 
Does this suggest that Jack sporting a hat causes it to rain?  In fact not.  However there are different variables.  Does Jack must hold his head coated due
to a pores and skin drawback?  Does Jack at all times put on
a hat rain or shine?  That is easy
instance.  However, when reporting reduces a
story to a single quantity, it loses the contributing elements.  A greater understanding of how fashions work is
required to have the ability to precisely report on it.

Sure, there’s a want to guage conditions that will trigger a
singularity – additionally referred to as a black swan occasion. 
At one-time, black swans had been thought of fiction, then folks discovered
one.  It was uncommon on the time.  Now they aren’t that uncommon.  Lately, the 100-foot rogue waves had been first
thought of fiction after which black swan occasions. 
Due to satellite tv for pc imaging, we now know that they occur comparatively
typically is for certain a part of the world with sure situations.  The purpose being that wanting on the outcomes
of a mannequin, one wants to think about the potential for such occasion, however not use
that as the ultimate reply.  Is it potential
that 8 billion of the present 8.8 billion folks may get the virus?  A 91% world an infection fee?  Presumably sure, however that may not be probably the most
possible and require a big reevaluation of the modeling assumptions. 

What we, as the general public, want to listen to and perceive is what
the assumptions had been in growing the fashions. 
The primary mannequin is what’s the complete impression and the way is it unfold over
time.  The second mannequin is what’s being
proposed and what’s that impression.  The
concern on the present state of affairs that required governmental interplay was the
potential for an enormous variety of circumstances that may overwhelm the medical
system.  By utilizing a distancing mannequin of 6
toes and a requirement of sheltering in place, the speed of an infection is slowed
and happens over an extended interval so the medial services wouldn’t be
overwhelmed.  It’s not indicating that
the fatality fee is decrease on account of these laws.  It has solely been delayed.  If a vaccine is created, it’s going to decrease the
fatality fee.  To be presenting something
in any other case is a sign of not understanding what the fashions are
saying.  Giant quantity projections could get
folks nervous and supply income for media, however the giant quantity projections
find yourself forcing the improper allocation of sources.      

The Mayo Clinic responded to the projections that the COVID-19 would require main useful resource allocation.  This resulted within the cessation/postponement of elective surgical procedures, most cancers remedies, and different associated medical procedures.  This massive projected variety of critical ailing folks didn’t occur.  The consequence was the Mayo Clinic is furloughing and/or giving pay cuts to about 1/3 of its 70,000 workers. [Ref. #3] This doesn’t embrace the impression on associated, externally contracted employees.  And, that doesn’t even handle the impression on the sufferers who had been unable to have their procedures. 

Might all of this over allocation of sources be based mostly on the lack of understanding of understanding what’s concerned is establishing steering based mostly on unknowns in fashions?  One must know what’s concerned within the assumptions, variables, and possibilities.  After the fashions are run, there’s a ultimate resolution.  Does the reply make sense, or may there be components lacking or misstated?  91% of the world being contaminated, raises a really critical query in regards to the validity of the mannequin with me. 

If the information media responds to analyses with single quantity
solutions, when these solutions usually are not correct, can there be any warranty of
growing a real understanding of the issue? 
I doubt it.  The consequence of
this sort “factual presentation” is that most people loses belief in any
statements which are printed.  With that
can be a lack of confidence in management. 
Scientific info should be offered precisely with the assumptions
accompanying the outcomes.   Integrity in each
step of the complete course of is required.


  1. https://www.wsj.com/articles/curve-crushing-11587753699?cx_testId=3&cx_testVariant=cx_4&cx_artPos=1#cxrecs_s
  2. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-media-vs-flatten-the-curve-11588113213?mod=hp_opin_pos_2
  3. https://kttc.com/2020/04/10/mayo-clinic-announces-temporary-furloughs-salary-reductions-for-some-employees/

I don’t present an express electronic mail handle on account of that electronic mail
handle turning into overloaded with spam and promoting.  I may be reached through electronic mail: “concepts at
nano-blog dot com”.  Change the “at” and
“dot” with the suitable symbols. 

About Walt

I’ve been concerned in varied facets of nanotechnology for the reason that late Nineteen Seventies. My curiosity in selling nano-safety started in 2006 and produced a white paper in 2007 explaining the 4 pillars of nano-safety. I’m a know-how futurist and is at the moment targeted on nanoelectronics, single digit nanomaterials, and 3D printing on the nanoscale. My expertise consists of three startups, two of which I based, 13 years at SEMATECH, the place I used to be a Senior Fellow of the technical employees once I left, and 12 years at Basic Electrical with 9 of them on company employees. I’ve a Ph.D. from the College of Texas at Austin, an MBA from James Madison College, and a B.S. in Physics from the Illinois Institute of Know-how.

Latest news
Related news


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here