How to make sense of the coronavirus chaos

By Esosa Aihie

We are beset on all sides, hourly, daily by COVID-19 data, hypotheses, speculation, & conspiracy theories.

We live in a world in which news, often pops up on social media without any useful context or consideration, which we have to provide context. Learning how to do that is becoming one of the most crucial skills we need to make sense of what we read. 

A good way to make sense is to distinguish between three categories of information: A) what we know is true, B) what we think is true, inferences drawn from strong supporting evidence, & C) opinions & speculation.

There’s a lot of C) with very limited evidence masquerading as B).  A lot of grim facts which are now firmly in category A), that this virus can & will overwhelm hospitals if left unchecked, as shown again & again: in Wuhan, Italy, Spain, New York City.

There was low-grade C-category speculation early on that the virus might have a low infection fatality in NY as against the confirmed or probable COVID-19 deaths— it’s past time to recategorize that & other speculation as category D). 

There’s much we don’t know, & much we’re still learning. So try to be ready & quick to change in the face of new evidence.

Author: nmmin

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