• Jim Gagen

Old School – Critical Thinking, Common Sense, Statistics, Models and the “Experts”

Looking Back

In past blogs, I’ve talked about the importance of research, statistics and analysis, but also referenced the need to balance this information with critical thinking and common sense. The past few months and our country’s response to the Coronavirus illustrate the importance of this balance.


The Pandemic and Statistics

There is no doubt that COVID-19 is horrible, dangerous and deadly. As of May 28, 2020, there have been 1,699,135 cases in the U.S.; 100,298 deaths and 391,508 recoveries. By comparison, the CDC estimates that there are between 39 and 56 million cases of the flu every year and 62,000 deaths. Heart disease is responsible for approximately 630,000 deaths each year per the CDC. These statistics are used not to diminish the devastation of the Coronavirus, but to put it in perspective with other illnesses.

The “Experts” and Models

The broadcast, print, digital and social media told us to listen to the scientists and health and medical “experts”. These “experts” relied on alleged sophisticated models predicting the devastating number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19. Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton used a model from Imperial College’s epidemiologist Neil Ferguson and guessed that there were already 100,000 Ohioans infected when she made the following projections for Ohio:

  • She predicted that 40-70% of Ohioans would become infected, which translates to 4.7-8.2 million (Which I immediately questioned and therefore no longer trusted Dr. Acton’s numbers)

  • She predicted that there would be 62,000 new cases per day in April and hospitals would be overwhelmed

  • She then revised the new case count to 10,000 new cases per day

  • She then revised the new case count to 1,600 new cases per day

As of May 28, 2020, Ohio had just under 34,000 total cases. A far cry from the 4.7-8.2 million once predicted.


The “Experts” and Flip-Flops

Surface transmission - first the “experts” said the virus could be transmitted from surfaces, then they said it couldn’t, then they said it possibly could.


Masks – first the “experts” said not to wear masks to save them for healthcare professionals, then they said to wear them, then many doctors came out saying masks were harmful for healthy people to wear constantly.


Critical Thinking and Common Sense

Surface transmission – since it may be possible the virus can be transmitted from surfaces, use some common sense and clean whenever possible. After all, clean is good.


Masks – since even medical “experts” differ on the health and safety of wearing masks, common sense would suggest that any additional filter is helpful. However, since our normal breathing process is to breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, common sense suggests that obstructing breathing out CO2 could be harmful over an extended period of time. Therefore, common sense would suggest you should wear a mask temporarily when in the close proximity of others. However, when you are outside in fresh air with no one else around, a mask shouldn't be necessary .


Closing

Many may wonder why I wrote this blog and what it has to do with marketing or media. While it doesn’t specifically talk of either, the purpose of this blog is to remind us of the importance of critical thinking, common sense and balance. Look at all sides to research or statistics and analyze the information. A friend recently said the biggest casualty of this whole experience may be the loss of common sense. Yes, COVID-19 is horrible, but did we have to shut down the economy and quarantine everyone? That same friend gave the analogy that we could basically eliminate the 36,000 traffic fatalities that occur each year by changing the speed limit to 10 MPH everywhere. However, common sense says that isn’t practical and the economic price to do that would be devastating. Can the same be said for shutting down the economy for months?

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