COVID-19: Faulty Logic, Distorted Perspectives
May 22, 2020
Tom Jefferson, Carl Heneghan
The Lord Bertrand Russell was always critical of induction, the everyday logic which was first systematised by Francis Bacon, first Lord Verulam.
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Russell exemplified the fallacy of induction with an apt if gruesome famous example, that of the inductivist turkey:
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It has to take over most of every waking minute. It's all you want to talk about. Prepare to watch people's eyes glaze over.
5. 弗莱德·赫什三人组(Fred Hersch Trio)，《漂浮》(Floating)， Palmetto。赫什目前的钢琴三人组由约翰·艾伯特(John Hébert)担任贝斯，埃里克·麦克菲森(Eric McPherson)担任鼓手，他们有着精确的优雅。这张专辑的结构如同一场夜间俱乐部演出，包括若干重新编配的标准曲，以及几首强劲而充满情感的原创曲，有着强大的表现力。
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We have already commented on the reliability of the firm predictions of future “waves” of COVID-19, made even by the most senior politicians of some countries. We have shown how the theory of “waves” is grounded on contemporary reading of influenza pandemics, of which only some had “waves”. This first gap in the pattern would probably not be acceptable to Russell’s turkey. He may, however, concede that given repeated observations of the presence of “waves” in some influenza pandemics, their appearance in COVID 19 would be highly likely. This logic, as Russell’s gory example shows, is faulty. It also has a devastating consequence.
Although ARIs are a syndrome caused by a wide variety of known and unknown agents, the narrative of the last half-century has been dominated by just one: influenza. The figure shows that between 1970 and 2019, 67,936 articles with “influenza” in the title were published and indicized by PubMed. Twelve times the 5,502 coronavirus publications over the same period.
In 2020 the picture is completely reversed: 13,847 articles with coronavirus or covid in the title against only 16 articles on influenza – a ratio of 865:1.
In Italy, as in all other countries in the world, there are no accurate numbers of deaths by influenza. One study analysing excess deaths for influenza over four years estimated the number for 2016-2017 “season” (the highest of the four years) to be 24,981. For Covid 19, we have far more accurate figures from 20 February 2020 to the time of writing: 32,330 deaths.
Our current approach is based on inductive logic and the research agenda is dominated by the herd approach. This leads to a disproportion between the impact of the disease and its research base and our preparedness.
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Tom Jefferson is a senior associate tutor and honorary research fellow, Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, University of Oxford.
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Carl Heneghan is Professor of Evidence-Based Medicine and Director of the 上海房屋租赁行业诚信联盟成立 and the 内地资金持续流入 香港房价连续16周创新高.
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