Expert ‘scientists’ predictions have been ALL over the place….
The people at 538 are the experts in forecasts, period…..
And they explain for the virus?
The experts predictions probably do N OT include all the variables that should be considered…And things change daily…
Oh, and experts?
Like all other human beings…
Make mistakes ….
Good and Bad…
Here we are, in the middle of a pandemic, staring out our living room windows like aquarium fish. The question on everybody’s minds: How bad will this really get? Followed quickly by: Seriously, how long am I going to have to live cooped up like this?
We all want answers. And, given the volume of research and data being collected about the novel coronavirus, it seems like answers ought to exist.
There are certainly numbers out there. Trouble is, they’re kind of all over the place. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is using models that forecast a best-case scenario in which about 200,000 Americans die, according to reporting by The New York Times. Meanwhile, a report from Imperial College London that made headlines for its dire, modeling-based forecasts predicted about 2.2 million U.S. deaths from the coronavirus, if nobody changes their everyday behavior.
That is, to put it mildly, a freaking huge spread — the difference between a death toll on par with the number of people who die from injury and violence annually in the U.S. and one that’s closer to the number of people murdered when the Chinese communists moved to suppress counterrevolutionaries between 1950 and 1953. It is, in other words, the difference between a number we routinely live with, and one that changes a country forever.
So why is that gap so wide? Well, friends, that’s the nature of modeling this beast. (And one of the reasons why FiveThirtyEight doesn’t have a model of its own. Thanks for your emails asking for one, though.) Using a mathematical model to predict the future is valuable for experts, even if there are vast gulfs between possible outcomes. But it’s not always easy to make sense of the results and how they change over time, and that confusion can hurt both your brain and your heart. That’s why we want to talk about what goes into a model of a pandemic. Hopefully, understanding the uncertainty can help you get the most out of all the numbers flying around.
So, imagine a simple mathematical model to predict coronavirus outcomes. It’s relatively easy to put together — the sort of thing people on our staff do while buzzed on a socially isolated conference call after work. The number of people who will die is a function of how many people could become infected, how the virus spreads and how many people the virus is capable of killing.
See? Easy. But then you start trying to fill in the blanks. That’s when you discover that there isn’t a single number to plug into … anything. Every variable is dependent on a number of choices and knowledge gaps. And if every individual piece of a model is wobbly, then the model is going to have as much trouble standing on its own as a data journalist who has spent too long on a conference call while socially isolated after work…..
The expert consensus is that COVID-19 will cause 246,000 deaths in 2020, higher than last week’s estimate of 200,000 deaths. The consensus estimate ranges, though, between 36,000 and 1.1 million. That’s quite a span, with major implications for American society tucked into that uncertainty….