Why are data scientists fired

The power of knowledge

by Pramod Ranjan

In early 2020, the world learned of an unknown virus that broke out in the Wuhan area of ​​China. Immediately, some data scientists waved their magic wand and published numbers that shocked the world. The first among them was Professor Neil Fergusson from Imperial College in Great Britain. In March 2020, he used a computational hypothesis to announce that without strict measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, around 40 million people will die over the next three months.

Indian specialists used the same model to announce more than 3.5 million Covid-19 deaths in the next three months, unless a strict lockdown is imposed. And those were estimates for only three months (1). It was said that if the virus continued to rage in the next year or two, much of humanity would be wiped out. These predictions were imaginary, unfounded and exposed (2).

In countries that waived strict measures, not only were there fewer Covid-19 deaths, but the excess mortality was also negligible. A well-known example is Sweden, whose government relied on the common sense of the people. In addition, countries like Japan, South Korea, Belarus, Turkmenistan, Tanzania, the Netherlands and so on either imposed no restrictions at all or only made recommendations. In all of these countries excess mortality was very low (3).

Officially, the number of deaths in these countries up to September 13, 2020 was as follows: Sweden 5,846, Japan 1,423, South Korea 358, Belarus 744, Turkmenistan 0, Tanzania 21 and the Netherlands 6,253 (4).

Those countries that imposed severe restrictions not only saw higher death rates, but also ruined their economies (5).

The health infrastructure in these countries was under heavy strain and health care practically came to a standstill. The uncertainties caused by the restrictions caused high mental stress in the population, which in turn led to the premature death of hundreds of thousands of people (6). All of this happened in the name of science.

Unfounded estimates and worthless solutions were presented in the name of "science". This was on the one hand the result of senseless statistics and on the other hand the use of unsuitable, incorrect data collection methods. But all of this gained social and intellectual validity in the name of science. The World Health Organization (WHO) Not only declared Covid-19 an International Health Emergency, but also changed their data collection process so that it became very difficult to determine whether a deceased person had Covid-19 or has died of Covid-19.

According to this, the distinction between a person who was infected with coronavirus but died from another illness and a person who died from Covid-19 has been blurred.

This has been referred to as the "science" of data collection. As part of this "science", people who had been infected with the coronavirus but died of another disease were counted as Covid-19 deaths and with the help of IT (information technology), these increasing numbers of deaths went around the planet at lightning speed (8 ).

In the style, new studies emerged with startling revelations. According to data released in the first week of September 2020 by the American Center for Health Control and Prevention (CDC) were published, doctors had given "only Covid-19" as the cause of death in only six percent of the cases (9).

This means that of the 161,392 deaths in the US up to this point, only 9,210 cases can be attributed to Covid-19 alone (10), while the remaining 94 percent of those who have died have comorbidities, each of which could be responsible for their death. Had these people received adequate treatment for their conditions, many of them might have survived. If the health system were functioning properly and a sufficient number of trained health workers were available, a large proportion of the 94 percent would still be alive today.

A closer look at the Covid-19 deaths in India would also show that most of these were not due to Covid-19 but rather to other diseases that these patients suffered from before they became infected with the coronavirus. But the fear of being able to possibly catch Covid-19 stood in the way of an adequate treatment of her already existing illnesses. Elderly heart patients made up a large proportion of these unhappy people.

In addition, a large number of Covid 19 patients died due to the use of the wrong medication in hospitals (11). Perhaps the biggest culprit was a malaria drug (12) used in India and most of the world under the WHO protocol to treat Covid-19 - again in the name of science (13).

Various research has shown that anti-malarial drugs can be fatal for heart patients (14).

The lack of sensitivity in the knowledgeable treatment of Covid-19 patients in Indian hospitals and in those of other third world countries has resulted in a large number of deaths. There have been reports of Covid-19 patients in India lying next to uncollected bodies and urinating dogs (15). The gravity of the situation can be judged by the fact that a journalist from a leading Hindi newspaper who contracted Covid-19 jumped to his death from the multi-storey building of one of the most prestigious hospitals in Delhi where he was being treated (16) .

Other reports have even included threats to patients who complained of hospital mismanagement and who would be killed by administering the wrong medication.

The social media pages have mountains of heartbreaking accounts of people rushing from one hospital to the next to seek treatment for their loved ones with illnesses other than Covid-19, but the hospitals refused to admit them led to her death.

In India, there have been reports from Meghalaya of women in labor being denied hospital admission, forcing them to give birth to their babies outdoors, resulting in the death of both mother and child (17). Social media is brimming with complaints from people that their loved ones are believed to be the cause of death from Covid-19, even though they have died of other diseases. In contrast, people who recovered from the infection report that it is not a painful disease. Of course, they felt psychological pressure when they were declared Covid-19 sufferers, but they never had the feeling that they were going to die. The situation was like this not only in India, but also in all third world countries.

In fact, the behavior and attitudes of health workers in the so-called industrialized countries were also extremely insensitive. As a result of the panic caused by the IT tools and the imprudent, unjustified and insensitive restrictions that were imposed on people, many times more lives were lost than were caused by Covid-19 itself.

Other studies with evidence-based revelations show that the official data on the Covid-19 deaths was misleading and inaccurate.

Britain has admitted to exaggerating its numbers. Using the wrong methodology, even those whose deaths were mainly due to other reasons were declared Covid-19 victims (18).

Dennis Rancourt, a distinguished physics professor at the University of Ottawa, and his team write in a research report published in August 2020 that the overly strict quarantine measures allegedly enforced in France to protect the population from Covid-19 resulted in 30,200 deaths across the country Months of March and April. At that time, the number of Covid-19 deaths in France was less than 25,000. According to official information, around 31,000 people died of Covid-19 in France as of September 14, 2020.

According to Prof. Rancourt, the main cause of these deaths was "psychological stress and social isolation of individuals with health vulnerabilities". The study comes to the following conclusion:

“Through the mass quarantine in nursing homes and facilities

  • isolated the State vulnerable elderly people from their families,
  • he restricted freedom of movement within the facilities by locking individuals in their rooms or in their beds, often for days, weeks, even months;
  • reduced staff and allowed staff to take extended or frequent sick leave;
  • he forced staff to take excessive precautions such as wearing masks, face visors, and gloves, which can cause some level of fear or horror;
  • he created a general atmosphere of danger and
  • prevented air circulation by closing the doors and windows and by preventing incoming and outgoing traffic with the exception of essential services " (19).

Since those in power feel that they can benefit from people's state of fear, they try to immortalize it in their minds. The projection of Covid-19 as an extremely vicious and utterly fatal natural disaster has caused the question of why we have so few hospitals to be forgotten, as has the question of why the number of medical schools is so small.

  • What sense does it make to give medical science a special status and to distance it from other areas of knowledge?
  • Why is it not mandatory that every college and university has a medical-scientific department?
  • Why did governments around the world attach great importance to education, but duck their feet when it came to making health care a basic right of the people?
  • Many countries, including India, have made education a means of building human resources. Resources for whom?

These and other questions that cause discomfort have disappeared from public discourse.

Nowadays, not only is primitive and unqualified science presented to the world as authentic and factual, but we are also inundated with dubious information by means of IT.

The way in which the free flow of information is blocked, how the mind is conditioned and how massive precautions have been taken to ensure that the so-called official information reaches the people is unprecedented (20).

But the question is, if the science used to fight Covid-19 is unqualified or "wrong", then what is a qualified or the "right" science? The search for an answer to the practical aspect of this question leads us to a discourse that shows us that science does become a game in which arguments are disseminated regardless of their objectivity - a game that those in power are playing to assert their own interests. Deprived of scientific understanding, science can be a source of indolence and superstition, and thereby lead to a narrow-minded view of things.

For example, Prof. Neil Fergusson's predictions of Covid-19 deaths were based on a statistical code that was evaluated by computers. Prediction based on this code legitimized the lockdown that caused hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths in Britain, America, India and the rest of the world; pushed millions of people into unemployment and poverty; robbed them of their basic rights and made digital surveillance the new normal. The false and exaggerated predictions based on this computer code have been labeled "science" (21). Most of the world's policymakers and news outlets used these predictions, claiming that the decision to impose lockdowns was part of the science of fighting epidemics. And this propaganda continues to this day.

However, later studies showed that the code used is 13 years old, simplistic and irrelevant. The code gave different results when used by different people (22).

Can that still be called science? The answer can be either yes or no, depending on how it is interpreted. That's why those in favor of lockdown call the code "science" and those who oppose it call it rubbish.

Some time ago a real war broke out between the advocates of both perspectives in the columns of newspapers and specialist magazines (23).

Those who believe the computer code to be "science" claim that thanks to the projections / forecasts based on it, hundreds of thousands of lives were saved as a result of the lockdown. Otherwise, the hospitals, which were not in sufficient numbers anyway, would have been overrun with infected people and the total number of Covid 19 deaths or secondary diseases would have been many times higher than it ultimately turned out. They believe that the prognoses, whether wrong or right, have met their fundamental goal of creating fear - both in public and in parliaments. And for this reason it is science.

In contrast, those who claim the statistical code is pseudoscience or a fraud argue that the chaos caused by the predictions has resulted in much higher deaths than if the world had been told the truth. They believe that if the code has not been able to make accurate predictions, the decisions based on it cannot be called "scientific".

Science has been defined by countless thinkers and philosophers. But on a practical level, it's still an unclear term. Like church priests, science priests can also interpret the theoretical definitions (24) as they see fit. Be that as it may, a related question is whether statistics can be called a science. Based on the arguments cited above, the answer can be either yes or no.

There is an anecdote about what statistics without common sense can lead to:

A villager went on a long journey with his family - wife and three children. He was known in the area for doing all sorts of calculations before he did anything and had a reputation for being smart. During a multi-day trip during which he and his family passed a village, the locals advised them not to go any further and to spend the night in the village. Travelers were told that there was a river on the way too deep to wade and a boat would be needed to cross it. The clever man asked many questions about the watercourse in the river, its depth, its deepest point and so on. He was told that the depth was no less than five feet, that it was a fast flowing river, its bed was uneven, and that no boatswain would be available to ferry it across after dark.

The man did some calculations and found, clever as he was, that the average size of his family was more than the depth of the river. Ignoring the advice, he continued on with his family. By the time they got to the river bank it was dark and the boatmen had gone. But he was not worried, knowing that his family's average size was greater than the depth of the river. All five family members went into the river and started wading through the water. But only the clever man, his wife and his eldest daughter reached the bank. His two sons drowned because their height was less than the depth of the river. The story illustrates the kind of catastrophes that can result when mathematical and statistical formulas are used improperly.

The fact is that neither mathematics nor statistics or science - actually none of the human knowledge systems - are as self-explanatory as they are presented in modern teaching systems. There is no doubt that humanity has an immense potential for studying and regulating the world in which it lives, which future generations could realize. But we are also at risk of technology overpowering human intelligence and common sense.

Two examples will suffice.Most countries, including India, have made wearing face masks compulsory, ostensibly to curb the spread of Covid-19. However, there is no evidence that face masks can protect against the virus. In fact, face masks give the wearer a false sense of security, and wearing a mask for long hours can be fatal for those with lung disease (26).

The mask is just a totem (symbol in the sense of a profane metaphor or a sacred symbol; translator's note) that serves to maintain fear. And no attempt is made to hide the real motive. Some time ago the government of the Indian state of Jharkhand published a newspaper ad warning that failure to wear face masks could result in heavy fines or even imprisonment in a state where large numbers of poor and Tribesman lives.

The ad said that wearing masks had been made compulsory to "change people's behavior". Similarly, the Meghalaya government declared the entire population of the state to be "asymptomatic carriers of Covid-19" and made wearing masks compulsory.

The government directive states that, according to the Covid Protocol, all residents of the state without exception must obey three commandments: "The mandatory wearing of masks, personal hygiene (hand washing with soap or disinfectant) and constant physical distance - both in public and in private rooms (27). The government of this northeastern state, where there have been very few Covid-19 cases, justified its decision with the words:

“The moment you start to believe that you are Covid-19 positive, your behavior changes. They are more careful ”(28).

Can these totems be called science? Wouldn't you be surprised if I said, “Yes, that's science too?” Since the mask's role in perpetuating social anxiety is replicable and its psychological effects are predetermined, it is also a science.

Today a great many people in the world are against masks. In Germany (29) and Australia (30) huge rallies recently took place to protest against wearing masks. There have been a number of demonstrations in America in recent months to protest the introduction of mask requirements. It is possible that the questions about the effectiveness of face masks lead to them being less of a source of anxiety.

Then this "science" would be obsolete and superfluous.

The second example relates to one of the most basic, natural needs of life. Dr. Theresa Tam, a renowned medical scientist from Canada and chief medical officer in the country, taught people scientifically how to practice sex during the Corona period. In an official statement dated September 2, 2020, she advised people to "skip kissing, avoid face-to-face proximity, and wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose" during sex.

She also drew people's attention to the fact that “according to the current state of knowledge, the likelihood of infection with Covid-19 through semen or vaginal fluid is quite low”. The doctor also warned to monitor your sexual partner for covid-like symptoms before engaging in sexual activities outside your own household (lovers, prostitutes or even spouses who meet after a long break) and to avoid sex with obese people and people with weakened immune systems , as they have a higher risk of contracting Covid-19 (31).

In a similar way, the professional association for erotic and sexual service e.V. (BesD), a German association of sex workers, issued a “hygiene code” for its members, which forbids them to kiss their customers or to perform any kind of “oral service”. He has also made the wearing of face masks and gloves compulsory for certain activities. The code states that sex workers should keep their heads one-handed away from their clients' faces while they work (32).

Is that science? And if so, then thank God she doesn't ask us to keep a distance of two meters during sex! After all, according to science, this is the minimum distance you should keep from others in order to protect yourself from Covid-19.

Even more relevant is the question of whether it is possible to adhere to these scientifically prescribed rules while indulging in original biological activity, which is a free and unbridled expression of love.

But many medical journals have published research confirming the scientific nature of this "science" (33). In one such article, published in Annals of Internal Medicine (a scientific journal published by the U.S. Internal Medicine Society, American College of Physicians, is published; Translator's note), medical professionals have the Harvard University suggested a way to adhere fully to covid-related science. They say that masturbation or sexual activity is safest through digital platforms such as phone or video chatting these days (34).

Needless to say, how unscientific and nonsensical are these solutions proposed in the name of science. Armed with a scientific understanding, these scientists would not have followed the current and recognized the future social and psychological implications of their recommendation to indulge in virtual sex.

In my last article on the subject, I had talked about how initially grossly exaggerated predictions were made about Covid-19 deaths and later the system of collecting data on deaths was changed (35). The fact is that this pandemic is due to the systematic generation of fear rather than the virus itself (36).

The main purpose of this article is to draw your attention to the difference between being scientific and being scientifically understood. The term "Science" (in German: Wissenschaft) has its origins in Latin scientia, which literally means "knowledge." Consequently, "science" has evolved into a methodical enterprise in the field of knowledge that reflects such facts about living organisms, our world and our universe that can be studied and tested and based on them accurate forecast is possible.

In other words, science is a systematized ramification of knowledge, the results of which can be replicated.

For example, when Issac Newton discovered the pull of gravity by systematically investigating why an apple falls to earth, he discovered a scientific principle because the experiment gives the same results under identical conditions and therefore an accurate prediction can be made that each Time when an apple detaches itself from the tree, it falls to the ground.

In the historical context, science is only one stage in the continuous development of knowledge. It is the name for the previously available condensed knowledge - in a sense the practical aspect of knowledge. For the layman, science is a branch of knowledge that uses impeccable methodology to arrive at irrefutable conclusions.

Over the past few decades, the image of a scientist as a superman and of science as a discipline that performs spectacular miracles has developed among the population. Science was established as a god who is never wrong.

Their efficiency has contributed to the reputation of science, as has the fact that the earlier methods of acquiring knowledge - generally compiled by religious leaders - were old and overdue. In fact, religion is also an older, outdated version of science. Religion claimed that it taught people morality and humanism. Science affirms that in itself it is moral and humanistic. The claims of both only served the interests of the individuals and the groups who benefited from them.

The birth and development of science followed the same path as that of religion. Religion was the compromise of the best available knowledge at the time. It also represented the practical aspect of the knowledge that mankind possessed.

Problems arose when religion was used by the powerful to serve their interests. With the passage of time, religion became obsolete. It was also increasingly permeated with hypocrisy and fraud.

What once happened to religion is happening to science today. But debate and discourse can lead to the development of a science that will help build a beautiful, human-centered world (37). Common sense and human intelligence represent an inherent scientific understanding that needs to be developed. However, this cannot be achieved through one-sided discoveries and inventions of science. Nor can scientific understanding be developed by learning to use the latest technology.

All systems of knowledge, including science and religion, are outside of us, while scientific understanding is within us. Scientific understanding not only shows us the way to discard superstition, magic and hocus-pocus that arose from the outdated systems of knowledge (religion and so on), but can also help us to question the claims of modern science.

In order to develop a scientific understanding and to prevent science from becoming religion, we would have to get science out of the ivory towers built with corporate capital. Science has to be brought to the people, where it belongs. It needs to be subject to debate, discourse and review.

There is no reason to hold them above suspicion. This would make the human reason, intellect, and common sense that have accumulated over the millennia accessible to science, and that in turn would make science sensitive and people-centered. Subjecting science to scrutiny and debate would sharpen people's scientific understanding and base science on irrefutable and solid facts.

It is not that only the material evolution of the world is distorted - with some parts thriving better than others. The pace of development of knowledge systems was also different in the various geographical, cultural and social zones of the world.

In the case of the caste system - which may have originated in India but has much of South Asia under its control - this inequality was also based on the activities assigned to particular communities.

Because of this, the privileged populations easily managed to establish their hegemony over the new systems as soon as they emerged. A compelling lesson from the Covid-19 era is that science should be placed under democratic control and its development should be human-centered. And our educational system should focus on developing a scientific understanding.

Pramod Ranjan, Born 1980, is a critic and journalist known for his commitment to social justice and who writes extensively on the development of social democracy in the media, the concept of Bahujan literature and the emergence of Bahujan culture. He has been the editor of several magazines and has published three books that are only available in Hindi. Ranjan is currently Assistant Professor at the Rabindranath Tagore School of Languages ​​and Cultural Studies at Assam University. His book on Covid-19 is currently being published.

Editorial note: This text is an unpublished paper entitled "Covid-19: Statistics, science and scientific temper". He was from Stefan Zimmerman Translated by the volunteer Rubicon translation team and edited by the volunteer Rubicon proofreading team.

Sources and Notes:

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(2) “The computer code for the model by Prof. Lockdown (Neil Furgusson), which predicted the deaths of 500,000 people from Covid-19 and inspired Britain's' Stay Home 'plan, is a' mess for the private sector would be fired ', say data experts ", Daily Mail, 17th of May. 2020.
(3) "Revealed: These are the countries that have not imposed bans", The Indian Express, May 16. 2020.
(4) Various media outlets have given their own interpretations to prove that these numbers are wrong. Some of them claimed that the governments were hiding the real numbers. However, a factual and objective study would show that the numbers are not wrong. They are based on a system of data collection that counts deaths caused solely by Covid-19 as Covid-19 deaths. Sweden and the Netherlands are an exception, where the death of every suspected corona patient was counted as a corona death. All countries that have reported a high number of deaths have used this system. For details, click here, accessed September 10, 2020.
(5) Tegel, Simeon: "The country with the world's strictest lockdown is now the country with the worst excessive deaths", The Telegraph, August 27, 2020
(6) Zinberg, Joel: "Death through Politics", July 9, 2020
(7) Ranjan, Pramod: "Covid-19: Deceptive Data, Indian Middle Class and Journalism," June 18, 2020
(8) See my detailed article entitled "Bhay Ki Mahamaari" to be published in the next issue of Pratiman, the biannual journal of the Center for Developing Societies (CSDS), New Delhi.
(9) Provisional death rates for Covid-19, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), updated September 2, 2020.
(10) This is the official CDC number that has not been contested by the institution. Hundreds of fact-checking organizations are active on the internet just to refute any fact that does not confirm the view that Covid-19 is a disaster. The same trend can be seen in this case. Many of the world's leading fact-checking organizations receive grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Tech Giants, which indirectly advance the interests of pharmaceutical companies. I wrote about it in detail in my article "Corona Kaal Mein Abhivyakti Par Proudyogiki Ka Shikanja". Much politics were made about these CDC figures. When President Trump tweeted these figures again, they were deleted from Twitter.
(11) Pulla, Priyanka: "How India Ignored Its Own Code for Use of Experimental Drugs in an Outbreak", TheWire.in, May 8, 2020
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(14) US Food and Drug Administration Warning: "FDA warns against using hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for Covid-19 outside the hospital or clinical trial due to risk of arrhythmia," June 15, 2020 and July 1 update 2020.
(15) "Horror in the hospital in Mumbai: Covid-19 patients lie near corpses", The Week, May 7, 2020
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(23) Ward, Bob: "It's not just Neil Ferguson - scientists are attacked for telling the truth", The Guardian, May 6, 2020
(24) Oreskes, Naomi: “Why Trust Science?” Audiobook, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2020.
(25) Balisht (wingspan) is a traditional measure of length that corresponds to the distance between the tips of the thumb and the little finger. Traditionally, the size of large things is measured in Balisht on the Indian subcontinent.
(26) Finley, Allysia: "The Hidden Danger of Masks", Wall Street Journal, August 4, 2020.
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(29) "Coronavirus rallies: Germany's growing anti-blockade movement", German wave, August 6, 2020
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(31) Canadian Health Authority: Statement by the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, September 2, 2020
(32) “Social distancing and prostitution. Germany helps sex workers affected by COVID-19 ",The Economist, June 4, 2020
(33) Petter, Olivia: "Couples should have sex with 'mask' on to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission," Study Proposals, June 3, 2020
(34) Turban, Jack L .; Keuroghlian, Alex S. and Mayer, Kenneth H .: "Sexual Health in the Era of Sars-CoV-2", DOI: 10.7326 / M20-2004, 2020
(35) See my detailed article entitled "Bhay Ki Mahamaari" to be published in the next issue of Pratiman, the biannual journal of the Center for Developing Societies (CSDS).
(36) Ranjan, Pramod: “Covid-19 and IT monsters: new traps, new hunters”, May 29, 2020
(37) Ranjan, Pramod: "Covid-19: Science and responsibility of intellectuals", Hastakshep News, June 26, 2020

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