87,000 Missing Deaths: Tracking the True Toll of the Coronavirus Outbreak

Sobering report from the New York Times, providing evidence that COVID-19 deaths have been over-reported. Mortality data in the middle of a pandemic is not perfect. In most places, the disparities between the official death counts and the total rise in deaths reflect limited testing for the virus rather than intentional undercounting. Officially, about 355,000 people had died worldwide of the coronavirus as of Thursday. But the total death numbers offer a more…

The Coronavirus Is Rewriting Our Imaginations

Possibly, in a few months, we’ll return to some version of the old normal. But this spring won’t be forgotten. When later shocks strike global civilization, we’ll remember how we behaved this time, and how it worked. It’s not that the coronavirus is a dress rehearsal—it’s too deadly for that. But it is the first of many calamities that will likely unfold throughout this century. Now, when they come, we’ll be familiar with how they feel.

Here’s some good writing from The New Yorker: “Seattle’s Leaders Let Scientists Take the Lead. New York’s Did Not”

If you think of science like the multiple-choice quizzes in a high school science class, where there’s exactly one correct answer that your teacher knows in advance, then watching science happen in real time can be confusing. Especially when it mixes up with politics, business, and human stubbornness. If socially disruptive anti-virus actions work, they will seem like they are unnecessary over-reactions. If they don’t work, they will seem like…

Fake News Can Be Deadly. Here’s How To Spot It

We are all vectors by which fake news can spread. That means you and I can make things better for everyone if we practice information hygiene. Don’t share the meme that has a screenshot of a headline until you’ve Googled for that headline and read the story for yourself. If you won’t listen to me, listen to this cartoon cat. (Kindness is important, too. We’re all fellow humans going through…

It’s reckless and dangerous for a leader with a habit of doubling down in the face of criticism to brainstorm that wildly on coronavirus treaments

Today my Facebook feed featured memes that mocked Trump for telling people to drink bleach, pour it into their bodily orifices, etc. He did say some reckless things, but Donald Trump did *not* suggest that people inject bleach, drink disinfectant, or expose their bodily orifices to sunlight. An opinion on the president is more valuable if it responds to something he actually does say and do. The truth suffers anytime people…

What Each Side of the COVID-19 Debate Should Understand About the Other

I’m very conscious that my lockdown experience has been fairly smooth. I’m teaching two classes right now, versions of which I have already taught online. At home, my nuclear family is getting restless and bored, but we’re busy and productive. Yesterday afternoon I went for a walk with my son in our quiet little suburb. That evening, my daughter asked us all to sit down and watch Spirited Away as…