During graduate school, once upon a time, I asked my professor an obvious question: “The assumptions of this model are clearly wrong, so why are we learning it?” He answered, without a hint of irony, “Yes, but it’s tractable”. The model relied on the assumption of ordinal utility and the details do not really matter. But my point was, simply, teaching us models based on incorrect assumptions is about as useless as teaching us about a geocentric universe. That professor taught me a valuable lesson:
Models are used instead of research, knowledge and science.
My brother works at university, and his department uses models for everything due it being cheaper than loading up a lorry with equipment and setting up an experiment in the area of interest. Simple as that.
F.e. they, and all agencies depending on their department (geology) use the same models, as underlay for decisionmaking and policy, handling of permits and so on. If anyone, say a farmer wanting to open new pastures, wants to use actual data from reality, they have to pay for it themselves, and the model still takes precedence juridically.
I'm sure it's obvious why models has been /the/ fad in both science, business and governement these past 15-20 years.
Cheap, efficient, not correct but correct enoguh for purpose. Establishes a high threshold for any kind of competition, private or political, and his impenetrable to 95% of the public, us neither having access to the actual model's structure or the knowhow re: the math behind it.
It's the magician's hat, really.
A lecturer I had in studying "the history of ideas and the ideas of history" (sorry, but that's the best translation I can manage) used an anecdote (purely fictional I think) about historical China: the Mandarins, fearing loss of power due to a growing class of craftsmen and professionals and also fearing that succesful colonisation of far-away areas (such as East Africa) would further loosen their control, decided that Pi equals 3. It's close enough.
Hence, all crafts, arts, et cetera were obligated to use '3' for Pi. Meaning that the Mandarins, controlling the very definitions of reality, could retain power since virtually the entire people instead blamed the craftsmen, artisans, and so on.
So now we have situations like a one nearby, where a small scale farmer can't move his herd to a new pasture, because according the model the manure and run off would travel uphill 150 meters, then through bedrock, and then sweep down into a river. Because that's what the model shows when applied to the rounded numbers for the relevant data for his general area. Acually going there, having a look, taking soundings, and making test? Why? That might mean the farmer could succesfully develop his small scale local food production. Can't have that. Better people in his area stay dependent on one of the three food chains of Sweden.
That's why we use models.
Thanks for taking a look. I am appalled that the legacy media were all spouting the headlines yesterday morning, the same day the study was released. The opening paragraph of the G and M version is quite damning:
"People who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 contribute disproportionately to the risk of infection among those who have been vaccinated, according to a new study being released as Canadians navigate a phase of the pandemic with few public-health measures remaining."
And then there was the quote in the G and M article from the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation’s COVID-19 Impact Committee chair, lending her endorsement to the models.
So the Fisman article is published yesterday in the CMAJ and all of these articles in MSM just simultaneously pop up.
"Conflicts of interest noted: Competing interests: David Fisman has served on advisory boards related to influenza and SARS-CoV-2 vaccines for Seqirus, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Sanofi-Pasteur Vaccines, and has served as a legal expert on issues related to COVID-19 epidemiology for the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario and the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario. He also served as a volunteer scientist on the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table. Ashleigh Tuite was employed by the Public Health Agency of Canada when the research was conducted. The work does not represent the views of the Public Health Agency of Canada. No other competing interests were declared."
Unfortunately, although I could see something stank with the "study," most people will just not their head in agreement, and go back to being jerks to us abstainers.
Thanks again, for lending us your stats viewpoint on this one.
I am reminded of Owen Wilson's words: "Well, everyone knows Custer died at Little Bighorn. What this book presupposes is... maybe he didn't."
So these people came up with a computer simulation that shows that, if you assume the vaccines work, the vaccines work. Media: Science has proved that that the vaccines work!
If you look at the abstract, it even says in plain text "We did not model waning immunity." But I think that most journalists can't read...
I don't even know how they can call this fantasy a study. Shouldn't a study have something to do with the real world?
As I always say, experts are paid liars that hide deceit in complexity. They use models they create to bolster their authority. Quite the scam.
Thanks for writing about this. I have been enjoying your pieces - especially your AHS data deep-dives.
You see similar situations in finance and economics where there is always an underlying assumption of normal distribution of returns or perfect clearing (100% efficient allocations) that make the math look nice and allow for simple and neat solutions, but hardly ever translate to reality. I think that is always going to be an artefact of using math inside a 'soft science' like health care, economics, etc.
Fisman however is a fraud and I don't think this was intended to offer a neat solution. His agenda is as obvious as his shameless propaganda. I always wonder why he is still allowed to do this as a 'public health expert' - who is also suckling off the public teet? Is fraudulent science protected by free speech laws? Or are we just in the wild west now?
"We treated immunity after vaccination as an all-or-none phenomenon, with a fraction of vaccinated people (as defined by vaccine effectiveness) entering the model in the immune state and the remainder being left in the susceptible state. For example, a vaccine that is 80% efficacious would result in 80% of vaccinated people becoming immune, with the remaining 20% being susceptible to infection."
All I can do is shake my head and say: This is blatantly incorrect.