We are in desperate times. In this article I would like to address the most fundamental premise of truth. Whether it be the COVID-19 crisis, how you raise your children, your work ethic or your attitude towards society, there is a truth. People want to know what to believe. I would like to give everyone a way to measure truth and hopefully they will make the right decisions based on it.
Unfortunately, when politics is involved there are vested interests on both sides of an issue. There are winners and losers in every political issue. In this environment it is very difficult for an average person to know which message is founded on truth. The news media is only slightly better. They have one major objective and that is to gain viewership. In order to gain subscribers, they will tend to sensationalize all issues. They will filter valuable information and focus on the more popular issues of the day. They do not necessarily help you gain information that is helpful to your life. If it serves their purpose to gain subscribers then the two objectives may coincide, but that is not necessarily true.
Science is a separate category. We want to trust science because it offers us some valuable insight as to the truth. We should be more trusting in scientific work that has been well investigated and checked. It is like the old saying of trust but verify. Not all claims by companies have been verified or verified adequately. Many times, when there is a profit motive behind getting a product to market faster, then the verification and quality of data may be sacrificed along the way. This is an unfortunate truth because now when that trust is abused then you may not trust scientific data in the future. Even in medicine there has been corruption. But more importantly, the science of medicine is not perfect and has gotten very expensive. It has developed into a necessary evil of sorts. The bottom-line is trust in the truth is sacrificed when financial interests and more money is involved.
So far everything described above would make you more skeptical and distrust these sources of information. I am not trying to discourage you from looking for the truth. The truth still matters and there are major consequences when the truth is not clear. You must be confident in logic that is as reliable as mathematics.
Math is not political. The same equations will give the same results no matter where or who you are. It can not be corrupted or misunderstood. Let’s make a distinction. The math of statistics is straight forward and honest. An average is the most fundamental statistical formula. If you give it five numbers, then is will give you the same answer every time. However, if you give it different numbers or fewer or more numbers then the answer changes. You just chose to change the input part of the same equation. But how the math works is the same. People can play games with the input and they are the ones being dishonest when they claim the math is the problem.
There are somethings in life where it is just math. 1+1 = 2; 2+2 = 4. If you don’t prepare for a crisis then when the crisis hits, you are unprepared, and the consequences will be worse. If we do not educate our children more than other countries, then we lose our technology advantage. If we do not cover people with healthcare, more people will die. To say you care about human life and abortion and not support better healthcare for everyone, then you are a hypocrite. If you do a poor job at work, your co-workers will suffer, and you lose the opportunity to learn and improve. Other companies and people will replace you. If you only blame other people for what you are responsible for then you are a coward and a weak person. If you don’t teach your children responsibility, sacrifice, discipline, how to share & be a team player then you are hurting them and the other people they will interact with in the future. If you don’t protect the environment, then you are destroying the very things that are required for you and your children to live a healthy happy life. If you lie and mislead people it is dangerous, unpatriotic, destructive, and weakens us as a society, country and family.
Let’s focus on the Covid-19 crisis now. There are some things that have always been known. It is highly contagious. It kills people and can make many people very sick, very fast. The more people become infected makes the possibility of controlling it more difficult and eventually impossible. It is so contagious and deadly that it can easily overwhelm our medical system. That means that the death rate goes up even faster. People with the greatest exposure to potential infected people stand the greatest chance of getting infected. The weaker the immune system the greater the risk of dying. Therefore, people that are older and with underlying health conditions are at greatest risk, but everyone has some risk. This is the Math of Covid-19.
The science of Covid-19 is that the spread of the disease must be controlled so the economy won’t spiral out of control. Trying to restart the economy before the virus is under control is like surrendering to the disease and you are at the mercy of the most brutal dictator that has no regard for human life. It does not have a face or a conscience. It does not care if you have parents or children or if you are the best person in the world. This virus will try to kill you. We have clearly seen the limits of science and medicine. We want to believe that they can solve all problems. There are flu shots and antibiotics. We want to believe that they will get us back to normal. That is only true some of the times. Therefore, science is not absolute or complete in its understanding of how things work. So, the difference between science and math is that with science we can mitigate the virus, it is not an absolute. Absolute certainty is a mathematical calculation that the death toll will be unnecessarily higher when you ignore the science.
The math of the virus is always the same. The only difference in the outcome is when you feed it different input information - how fast you try to reopen the economy, how much care is taken by the companies and the workers to protect themselves and others, distancing & sanitation guidelines. Mathematics has nothing to do with the attitude of the average person. But the attitude will affect the mathematical conclusions of sickness, death and effect on the economy.
Skepticism about science should always be a shared by the lay person and scientists. True science is a journey to find even better answers all the time. The current science is always a better option than a random guess. That does not give an excuse to argue a counter point without any validation or evidence. Indeed, lets identify the weakness of what we don’t know and determine the direction of investigation to discover information that will help us all. Every person that advocates for random chance is advocating chaos, anarchy and destruction of life and the economy. These people and this attitude are reckless and dangerous to themselves and all the people that they influence, contact or affect.