14 March 2020

What It’s Like to Nearly Die from Covid-19

Posted by Dan Satterfield

There’s a very fascinating video below, but I want to give a pat on the back to the many science communicators in all fields who like me have tried to give good reliable science-based info on social media over the past two weeks. Particularly, Dr. Marshall Shepherd, past President of the AMS, who has done much to explain how to look critically at the information out there.

Many people have a poor understanding of what exponential growth is and explaining it has been vital this week. I myself spent much of the week trying to explain why looking at the deaths so far this year from regular flu compared to that of the Covid19 virus is a worthless statistic. The mortality rate of Covid19 vs that of the flu is important, but many people refused to accept this. Why? Probably because of their worldview and the fact that some media outlets kept repeating the meaningless flu death statistics that were meaningless. I’ll let you decide on why they did that.

Many of us (and every TV station’s website in the country) were also inundated by people claiming it was all a media-hyped hoax. I think the situation worldwide tonight shows in stark relief why this is not so. If you were one of these people, you have difficulty in judging the value of information that conflicts with your worldview. This is called confirmation bias, and you can improve by understanding it.

It’s a no brainer to me that the World Health Organisation knows a whole lot more about this than I do, but there are a lot of people out there who cannot seem to reconcile themselves to that fact. I find that stunning. Tom Nichols’ book The Death of Expertise goes deeply into this subject and I highly recommend it.

Oh, and a BIG thanks to the medical experts who helped me answer medical questions that I knew were far beyond that of someone who was trained in Earth Science (and gets squeamish at the sight of blood).

So now, what it’s like to get Covid19: