All posts by EdwardM

Public health does not understand math

Proximity technology is controversial, particularly among some Americans who are unwilling to share personal data for privacy reasons and skeptical of the big tech companies offering the service. But it’s been embraced in some places, including Scotland, where a new app was reportedly downloaded 600,000 times.

Source: Your phone could determine if you’ve been exposed to coronavirus. Oregon’s ready to embrace the tech –

600,000 sounds impressive based on intuition (everything in public health seems to be based on intuition).

The population of Scotland is estimated as 5.5 million.

600k of 5.5 million is 10.9% of the population.

If we assume everyone has a compatible smart phone (which is a false assumption), then the probability that an individual has the app is 10.9%.

The probability that two people have the app is 10.9% x 10.9% or 1%. It takes two to have a detection.

Thus, while 600,000 sounds like a lot of downloads, it will detect up to 1% of potential cases. Which is indistinguishable from ZERO.

Only in the mind of public health does this sound like “embraced”. But you know, “intuitively” this sounds like a great idea, right?

Oh My God. This news article says there is up to a FALSE POSITIVE RATE OF 45%!

The Turing team estimate that 7 out of 10 contacts will be correctly notified if they are within 2 meters and for longer than 15 mins. Detection rates within 5 metres achieve 99.3% accuracy of all contacts recorded, with a false positive rate of 45% and a true positive rate of 69%. 

Oh My God. Start thinking through the Bayesian matrix here. On My God.

Bluetooth-based smart phone contact tracing is an idea that seemed intriguing when it was proposed last spring. It was a way for the tech sector to join the virtue signaling crowd by doing something for the pandemic. The tech, however, is a poor solution. Most of the media confused this with network-side tracing technology (the same way they confused an N95 mask as equivalent to a DIY home made cloth mask when reviewing “mask studies”.) In many countries, like S. Korea, tracing is done using the network to locate all phones, including dumb phones and then follow up with in person contact tracing. But that method violates privacy rules in North America, the EU and other countries. So tech came up with the Bluetooth idea – and by damned, everyone is so invested they will absolutely drive it forth even though preliminary tests have found it to have little value.

Public health says it has no data on what works and what does not work

Oregon has released its periodic modeling update report.

First, disease transmission was falling 2 weeks before the Governor put us under house arrest on March 19th.

The data are consistent with a stepped reduction in transmission in Oregon, beginning with a 5% decrease in transmission after March 8, up to a maximum 80% decrease in transmission after March 23. Indeed, while the interventions before March 23 appeared to have slowed epidemic growth, the additional aggressive measures implemented on March 23 (i.e., “Stay Home, Save Lives”) appeared to have further curtailed that growth.

What worked and what did not work is not known – what?

The reductions were likely due to people spending more time at home, as well as an increase in hygiene and disinfection practices, wearing of face coverings, and physical distancing outside the home; however, the data to determine the relative contribution of each change are lacking.

Translation: We don’t know whether any measure works or does not work, no idea how each works relative to others if at all, but we have a religious belief that some things work, maybe, perhaps, kinda, sorta. Close enough for government work.

It is not possible to confidently predict future COVID-19 trends because of significant gaps in knowledge. For example, we do not have comprehensive measures of adherence to the physical distancing, face covering, hygiene, isolation, and quarantine guidance, do not know how adherence will change over time, and do not know what the effects of seasonal changes will be.

Translation: We do not have any data to support any mitigation measures. None at all. Yet we can confidently tell you that face masks work – even as we tell you that we do not know. We can confidently tell you that face masks work better than a vaccine for which we do not yet have any data. Beyond parody!

Pubic health is astrology pretending to be a science. Using a computer does not turn astrology into a science.

It would not be a problem if public health were honest – authoritatively telling us that X works when they privately admit they don’t know confirms that public health has no credibility.

FYI – these modelers are okay. First, they have open sourced their simulation-based model code. Second, I have examined it and it seems reasonable and adhering to general software development principles (unlike the ICL pile of shit model code). Third, they openly discuss their model limitations. This is exactly how models should be done and discussed. Models that make numerous assumptions, based on no evidentiary support, can still get a good answer, just by luck! The happenstance of accidentally getting the correct answer 🙂

In Appendix 2 they have a list of government actions taken. They left out that on June 2nd, public health said protesting was more important than fighting a virus. Kind of a significant milestone to omit from the history.

In the last paragraph

Finally, significant unknowns remain, including information about public adherence to guidance (e.g., physical distancing, face coverings, hygiene, isolation, quarantine), the disease dynamics, and treatment. As CDC stated (CDC Planning Scenarios) “new data on COVID-19 are available daily; information about its biological and epidemiological haracteristics remain limited, and uncertainty remains around nearly all parameter values.

To quote Monty Python, “It’s only a model”.

By the time a vaccine is availability, herd effects will have resolved the pandemic

I have predicted for some time that general vaccine availability would be in Q2 of 2021, however I am an idiot so what do I know?

President Donald Trump predicted Friday that the U.S. would make available to all Americans a coronavirus vaccine “by April.” That estimate is at odds with CDC Director Robert Redfield’s prediction Wednesday that a vaccine probably would not be widely available to Americans until the summer or fall of 2021.

Source: Trump predicts coronavirus vaccine will be available to all Americans by April – MarketWatch

Then again, almost everything said turns out to be inconsistent, contradictory, incoherent nonsense. Never seen an entire field of study shoot itself in the head like public health has done.

We can’t breathe

Day #8 of AQI’s in the 400 to over 500 range. Was 438 a short time ago.

They originally thought we’d start clearing out Tuesday, then Wednesday, then Thursday, then Friday.

They’ve now updated their forecast to “smoke advisory through Saturday”.

We can’t breathe.

We are beyond frustrated – and frustrated with the faux leaders who are responsible for the massive fire dangers that were created by incompetent government policies. But rather than accept responsibility and take concrete actions, they engage in “climate damn emergency” hand waving that leaves us at high risk for decades to come. They don’t give a damn at the harm their polices have created.

Update: Late on Friday, rain came. In a very short time, air quality went from well over 300 to (unofficially) 27 or (officially) 63. The latter, official number appears to average over a longer period of time such that it did not yet capture the rapid air quality change. This week, this year, has been very difficult.

Nobel Laureate says the pandemic may be ending

I am just an idiot who does not have a Nobel award – but I have been watching the same data and it looks this way in the data – and this would be great news:

Stanford biophysics professor Michael Levitt, who won the 2013 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, says the pandemic might have come to an end.

“CDC excess deaths to 29 Aug. are 14% below baseline as predicted in July. This is the first time since March that delay-corrected death data fell below baseline. Excess death in the Mar.-Aug. 20 COVID-19 season may be over. A huge milestone!” he tweeted Thursday.

Source: Is The Coronavirus Crisis Finally Over? A Nobel Laureate Says It Might Be – Issues & Insights

Note that the pandemic will continue to spread through as yet-not reached states, regions and countries. It did not start in each location at the same time and different aspects of each location influence how it proceeds.

If true – time will tell – it makes a mockery of the doom and gloom from the public health quacks [1] threatening lock downs ’til anywhere from mid-2021 into 2022.

When deaths began to decline in the U.S. months ago, the media jumped on the “new positive cases” meme, which was rising – mostly due to hugely ramped up testing. As cases began to disappear in FL, TX and AZ, they switched to “cases rise alarmingly in the Midwest”. In low population states.

We are running out of people and places to continue to play this game.

As the prevalence of the disease in the population diminishes, the number of false positives skyrockets due to Bayes theorem. A 97% accurate test may produce 5x to 10x more false positives than actual positives. Yes, really. That’s how statistics works – and is a great example of why the public’s intuition as to what works (such as face masks) may be completely wrong.

Consequently, the epicurve will always be elevated at this point but it becomes increasingly irrelevant. Most of the media – and most of the math ignorant public health quacks – do not understand Bayes theorem.

Continue reading Nobel Laureate says the pandemic may be ending

Wild fire history – a multi-variable problem

Global area burned 2003-2015, chart from NASA, based on satellite monitoring. Their data only goes up through 2015.

Source: Researchers Detect a Global Drop in Fires

U.S. historical fires, from the National Interagency Fire Center

It is odd that the fires in California and Oregon are caused solely by global climate change while this is not happening, per NASA, everywhere else.

For going to facts and data, as I always do, I will be called a denier, a Nazi and probably canceled. Even though I have not denied climate change and

  • I have invested large sums in a super insulated and sealed solar PV powered house
  • heated by locally sourced wood (which the UN and NASA call climate neutral),
  • And have carbon emissions just 1/4 that of the typical American house

in today’s perpetual culture of outrage, if the data does not agree 100% with your beliefs (facts do not matter) – then I must be canceled immediately as I am obviously a climate denier!

As I wrote a few days ago, the western wildfires are a multi-variable problem, not a single variable. A lot of people have jumped on their ideological ponies to push that the problem is exclusively climate change or exclusively forest management or “forest raking” (what is that?). It is not any one of those – it is a multi-variable problem.

What is the climate control knob you could have adjusted 5 years ago to prevent the regional fires in California and Oregon?

My fear – and it is a real fear – is we will pour trillions of dollars into climate solutions, much of which will likely not work to control climate or fires – and our local forests will still be burning for the remainder of my life.

Because our faux leadership of both major political parties would rather fight ideological battles than actually stop fires. They only care about keeping you emotionally riled up – they don’t give a shit for solving real problems.

We have not been outside in a week

We are now at one week of Air Quality Index values hitting around 500 +/- each day.

The outside air is unbreathable. We have been confined to our sealed house for a week. Only some very brief times have been outdoors and then only while wearing a home made, 3D printed dual-HEPA layers filtered mask that appears to effectively remove most of the smoke smell.

Much of this smoke is coming from the Lionshead Fire, a lightning started fire that began on August 16th. Much of its burn footprint is in a designated wilderness area. We have had hazy/smoky skies since August 21. By September 11th, our air quality went from merely poor to off scale. Literally off scale – as the AQI was above 500 on a scale that only goes to 500.

Anything above 300 is “hazardous”.

The August 16th fires exploded as high winds from an Arctic cold air mass/high pressure system poured in to the area, with winds of 55-75 mph on ridge tops, and 50 to 60 mph within canyons on the west side of the Cascades. This began on Sep 7 and finally died down on Sep 9th. In a matter of about a day, a 500 acre fire blew up to over 100,000 acres. The 22,000 acre Lionshead Fire is now up to almost 200,000 acres.

When fires are caused by natural forces in wilderness areas, the general policy is to let them burn. Additionally, as there are no existing roads, access is difficult. Plus mechanical contrivances are not allowed except – typically – to rescue seriously injured persons – thus the rule of thumb is to let them burn as part of natural processes.

For those of us downwind, our own lives are at stake from this foul air.

I do not know if they intend to let it burn or to fight it, or to only fight the parts outside the wilderness area. An incident commander was quoted yesterday saying this fire will not be out until winter comes – meaning that this fire may continue for another month or more.

This is a health disaster for the few hundred thousand of us living within this region. Sadly, no politician gives a damn – each is using these events to further their political ideologies – without actually solving real problems. All politicians are mostly scum – they are definitely not leaders and show few skills of actual leaders.

Update: We are now on day #8 with readings in the 400 to 500+ range. We can’t breathe either.

This is not going to work right: CDC would like to test “virtually everyone”

The false positives will overwhelm the true positives – how will they detect this?

Testing has so far been used in the United States mostly to diagnose people who are sick or have been exposed to someone with a confirmed Covid-19 case. Screening would test virtually everyone in a given community, looking for potentially infectious people.

Source: CDC is developing new coronavirus testing guidance for screening at schools, businesses

Here’s the problem.

  • We test everyone.
  • The actual prevalence of the disease in the community is 1 in 500 people (as an example).
  • Our screening test is 99% accurate (in reality, the full test process may have a much higher error rate).
  • We test 500 people and find 1 person who actually has Covid-19, plus we find 1% of the 500 or 5 people who are tagged as false positives.
  • We’ve now found six people testing positive but only 1 of the six actually has the disease; the other five are false positives.
  • Public health authorities tell us that six people tested positive and “new coronavirus cases” go up by six.
  • The community, however, has a population of  50,000 people.
  • Our testing “virtually everyone” finds 100 actual new cases (1/500 x 50,000) and 500 false positives (5 for every 500 or 10 for every 1,000, times 50 or 500).
  • Public health tells us there are 600 new cases (100 actual + 500 false positives).
  • 500 people are placed in two week quarantines unnecessarily.
  • Because we are testing everyone and because of this problem, we can never “flatten the epicurve” – we will always have a large number of false positives when we test everyone while the prevalence of the disease is low. Even a high accuracy test – or high specificity – still results in this problem. No test – including lab and handling – is 100% accurate.

And oh, the actual test they are proposing to use has a false positive rate of 3% – three times worse than the 1% I used above.

What am I missing? This sounds like insanity – unless your goal is purposely maintain high numbers.

Update: Based on data for my county, it appears the prevalence may be 1 in 800. And the actual false positive rate is 3%, not 1%, as in my example, above.  This means if they greatly expand testing, nearly all of the positive results will be false positives in this County. Unless they take measures to address this (such as double testing all positive results, and not using too many cycles in the PCR process), this is another disaster in the making.

To illustrate 3% of 800 is 24 false positives for each actual case they find. In a 50,000 person community, that is 63 actual cases and 1,500 false positives if they test everyone. I asked OHA about this and they have not answered; another person tells me he has asked OHA also and they have not answered.