Beware Berkson's Paradox

There’s a lot of populist data science going on right now thanks to Covid-19. That might make you wince, given all the cranks and conspiracy theorists out there. But ordinary people interpreting data is inevitable; democracy pretty much requires us to be amateur scientists right now, and with so much controversy out there, it’s important to informed. The cranks and conspiracy theorists aren’t going to just stop, after all. Better to cultivate a respect for the work we all need to do in order to better understand where we are with this disease. (Distrust anyone who thinks less citizen thinking is better than more.) But it’s hard! It’s easy to go wrong, even excluding those who are actively dishonest, and we are living in the culture war consequences of that difficulty. We’re all trying to navigate this the best we can. Which does not, obviously, mean that everyone is doing it equally well.

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