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More Faulty Covid Data

Writing in tomorrow’s Wall Street Journal, AIER’s Phil Magness exposes not only a major error in a scientific study on mask wearing, but also appalling irresponsibility of a science-journal’s editors, as well as of the media in reporting on the findings of this deeply flawed study. Here are two slices from Phil’s superb op-ed:

Unfortunately, the IHME modelers’ findings contained an error that even minimal scrutiny should have caught. The projected number of lives saved, and the implied case for a mask mandate, are based on a faulty statistic. Using a months-old survey, IHME modelers assumed erroneously that the U.S. mask-adoption rate stood at only 49% as of late September, and therefore had plenty of room to increase to “universal adoption,” defined as 95%, or to a more plausible 85%. According to more recent survey findings, however, America’s mask-adoption rate has hovered around 80% since the summer.


Nature Medicine’s editors have shown little interest in addressing the error. I asked the journal’s editors for a response, but they demurred for 13 days—nearly twice the time it took to vet the entire paper—and the belated answer wasn’t to correct course. An editor replied that the “alleged discrepancies” were “not issues of substance that would require further action” because “information about what datasets were utilized in the authors’ models and periods they encompass are reported in the study.”

In layman’s terms, Nature Medicine thinks it’s OK for the IHME team to rely on obsolete figures as long as it cited its source. The misleading depiction of U.S. mask use is apparently immaterial.

DBx: The amount of misinformation about Covid-19 is vast. And it combines with the easy ability to mislead with even true statistics to continue to fuel the deranged hysteria over Covid – and the resulting, equally deranged willingness to endure more lockdowns and other inhumane disruptions of economic and social life.

Fortunately, Phil Magness is on the job. As David Henderson described Phil recently in a Facebook comment, “Phil Magness is a large public good.”