It doesn’t matter who says it. It doesn’t matter what the data model says. It doesn’t matter what the poll results tell us. It doesn’t matter what the betting line is.
When our the media reports on a prediction of the future, it’s not news. When a politician warns us of what they think is going to happen, it doesn’t matter.
How many projected death toll headlines have you read since this pandemic began? 2.2 million dead. 500,000 dead. 100,000-200,000 will die. 50,000 could die tomorrow.
Forget the pandemic. It’s everywhere. Shock polls. Experts say. Data models show.
- Biden is polling ahead of Trump.
- Global famine is just 10 years away.
- The Nationals will never win a World Series.
- Hillary will beat Trump.
- This will be the worst hurricane season on record.
- There will be an ice age by 2000.
- Acid rain will destroy fish population in lakes.
- The arctic will be ice-free by 2018.
- Social Security will run out of money by 2025.
People continually lose site of how incomprehensibly complex and dynamic the world is and just how many unpredictable factors are in play. The future is uncertain. None of these predictions are reality.
You don’t have to look any further than the environmental movement for evidence. There are websites full of past environmental predictions that weren’t even close.
They’re all based on models. But models are only as good as the people we have feeding them the dynamics. And people just can’t account for every potential relevant factor.
It’s why the climate models are so off. And when they appear to be off, they turn knobs and pull levers to recalibrate them so they’re back on track. But it won’t be long until something else they didn’t consider throws them back off.
We don’t know how serious this pandemic is because it’s not over, and we won’t know until it is. In the meantime, we’re trying to make important decisions about how much damage to do to the economy and people’s livelihoods and mental health versus the unknown number of lives we may save.
We learn things every day and adjust the models accordingly. Theoretically, our models should get more accurate as we go, but with the entire earth in play, and seven billion people all behaving the way they think best, there are impossibly too many factors to tell.
As we try and navigate this pandemic, we have to use critical thinking skills and make decisions based on the evidence in front of us. To make decisions based on what could happen according to a data scientist’s model increases the chances of making poor decisions that can have more catastrophic results than the disease itself.