Thursday, January 14, 2021

"Data scientists" don't have any expertise to determine Covid policies

It is absolutely shocking to watch the decay of the United States of America as we have known them since 1776. The degree of censorship and general terror against the political opposition already puts the U.S. among the 10 least free countries in the world. Donald Trump – the most impotant politician on Planet Earth – has been silenced on all well-known Internet servers. People are being fired from their jobs, these fired workers' Pavlik-Morozov-style defective kids are being financially rewarded for reporting that their parents support Trump, Trump has lost the business relationships, many other people lose their regular banking and other things. This already is on par with the Third Reich around 1938 or so.

Also, I watched the proceedings that led to the incredible 2nd impeachment of Donald Trump. It was unbelievable to hear so many fanatical piles of garbage (I mean the Democratic Party "lawmakers") that just parrot hysterical lies that other piles of garbage said before them – and they are earning half a million dollars or so for this kind of "work". I am utterly disgusted by tons of Americans whom I have known and who do literally nothing to save their country. And I am even terrified by folks like Donald Trump or Alex Jones who call for non-violence. I am sorry but to call for non-violence in these grave conditions is a breathtakingly irresponsible, basically criminal act, an outright surrender to pure and escalating evil.

But let me get to a topic that is ironically less frustrating now, Covid discussions in the Czech media. Czech ex-president Václav Klaus (who was 79 in June) became unbelievably active. He's giving interviews or participates at rallies almost every day. Most of the events and texts are posted at On Sunday, he gave a brilliant and lively speech at the Old Town Square, a rally against the Covid restrictions. Yesterday, he talked to Frequency 1, a radio station where he was interviewed by Ms Helena Šulcová.

A repeated vital theme in his comments was the "need to see the information in the context" and "the ability to properly extract the important ones and correctly interpret them!. I pretty much (and usually totally) agree with all these comments of his. So for example, he correctly says that the average viewers of TVs and readers of newspapers are being bombarded by random factoids and numbers whose only actual message is "be hysterical". If and when these numbers are compared with some comparable numbers, one sees that "it is not really that bad" but the media just make sure that it doesn't happen. For example, the number of hospitalizations and serious cases in Czechia remains below the peak from the early November – when almost 1000 spare ICUs were still available, among other things. But this comparison is the essential thing that is being deliberately hidden from the listeners.

Not for the first time, Klaus criticized the Czech score of Covid serverity, DOG (the picture of dog with 5 moodes is being used; the Czech word is PES which funnily stands for the Anti Epidemics System, Protiepidemický systém). He previously said that it is an exercise that adds apples and oranges because the score is a (mostly linear) combination of numbers of very different kinds, numbers with different units, so it is the coefficients or relative weights that are adjustable and heavily affect the result. Someone chose those weights – randomly – and needless to say, the critical thresholds where the PES score translates to restrictions of the society at levels 1-5 were also chosen pretty much randomly.

So it is really a stupid game. Someone randomly invents some quantities that will be used, randomly invents the relative coefficients, and randomly invents the magnitude of the score where the critical points occur, and then we blindly "play this game", thinking that it is rational. But it is completely irrational. The values of the coefficients haven't really been justified by anything. There hasn't been any serious discussion about them. And the same comment applies to the boundaries where the restrictions may be loosened or, on the contrary, tightened. Yet, people are being misled into believing that the people imposing this game on the nations are "experts".

In the interview yesterday, he discussed "what kind of the people" are behind these formulae for scores and related "rules of the game". And we lerned that he was told that they were "data scientists". Klaus considers "data scientists" to be a non-occupation or an anti-occupation. It is not a real expertise for any real world problem. Klaus pointed out that those people don't have any training in medicine and they haven't published any articles in technical medical journals.

I just agree with him. The point is that the data isn't enough because we're drowning in gigabytes of data. The hard part is to pick the relevant and important data; and to deduce the correct interpretations and implications. This is something where basically every non-expert (in medicine etc.) must be assumed to err. You know, I may be called a data scientist given my cool results in some Kaggle contests. But I know it doesn't mean much. Even if you know how to find patterns or creative a predictive program of something by "machine learning", it still doesn't make you a good expert because even if you try to extract "all patterns" in the gigabytes of data, there are lots of them, some of them are spurious, and even many of them which aren't spurious have a different explanation than the explanations that are being used to make big decisions about politics. One may see lots of correlations by an automatic, machine-learning-style analysis of some datasets. But without the actual knowledge of the field, the "data scientist" is extremely likely to confuse the cause and its effect (or the shared cause of both correlated quantities); he is unlikely to correctly guess which of the correlations are natural and which are man-made, which depend on the traits of a society and which don't, and so on.

But even if you were able to become an expert in a science by running some machine learning or "pattern recognition" software on some relevant data (which you still don't know what it is, a mere "data scientist" just doesn't know which are the relevant inputs and which are the relevant outputs that he should relate), it is still true that the decisions about the lockdowns and similar far-reaching decisions just don't follow and can't follow from the "data science" and not even from "any science", for that matter. They are political decisions that unavoidably depend on the personal or societal values and preferences. This dependence – which is even more obvious than the analogous dependence of "facts in quantum mechanics" on the choice of the observer – is extremely important, especially in any country that is at least slightly democratic, and especially in any nation where the people are capable of their own thinking, at least a little bit of it.

If you think or say that the "expertise", especially the expertise of bogus occupations such as "data scientists", is sufficient to directly determine the right way to lock the society down, then you are a mammal with no usable standalone brain. You are a hopeless moron, an obedient dog who is directly controlled by some power-thirsty and self-serving yet incompete aßholes who control the steering wheel. Millions of people have been persuaded to claim (and maybe believe) that their mindless obedience to self-anointed "experts" makes them more modern, more scientific, better than others. But it's a staggering lie. If you mindlessly listen to stuff that someone presents to be "from the experts", you are braindead.

In the interview, Klaus reiterated some essential theses. First, Covid-19 is a significant, serious disease but to present it as a "drama" is worse than the disease itself. Second, there is nothing unusual happening in most hospital. Third, in the past, people were isolating the ill people who suffered from an infectious disease. Now it is the first time when the societies decided to isolate the healthy people and it's an unprecedented irrational attitude. Klaus, who is in a nearly Olympic shape, reacted to the recommendation by President Zeman who is sadly physically decaying. The latter said: "Václav, take the jab, otherwise Covid will grab you by the balls." Klaus said that everyone must have the right to decide whether he wants to be vaccinated. Klaus' own decision communicated to "Dear Miloš" is to prefer the standard methods to wrestle with the viruses, the immunity system, to be outside a lot, eat vegetables ;-) etc. That differs from Zeman who prefers to be inside, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes and stubs, and take vaccination. If asked for a friendly recommendation, Klaus would probably tell Zeman "given your visible signs of poor health, you might consider the shot". On the contrary, the host, Helena Šulcová, looks healthy and young so Klaus' advise would be "No". She had to remind him that in the previous interview, she shared the intent to get vaccinated with him. ;-) Šulcová has been vaccinated even against flu. "That is sad," Klaus commented with a smile. Klaus also discussed the cautious voice of a Hamburg-based 61-year-old molecular toxicologist who sees a 5% chance of a big negative impact of this kind of an untested (Pfizer) vaccine. He also criticized the EU's ambition to directly control the medical decisions in member states like ours.

Klaus said "never say never" about his plans for a 3rd presidential term. He couldn't find anything positive about the Christian Democrats and TOP-09 that teamed up with ODS, the party that he founded 30 years ago but abandoned. Christian Democrats recently said "let us allow Germany to take over us because we or our government can't deal with Covid ourselves". Also, Klaus refused to discuss the "Congress riot" without the previous context. Also, he's been to the Congress 20 times and the level of the security policies there is unimaginable. So whether he likes it or not, question marks emerge about the intent behind the enabled visit by the Trump supporters. Klaus describe Biden, a buddy from visits, as a non-revolutionary and an "old structure" who shouldn't be demonized. It's others who may be expected to do the revolutions.

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