Should we stop looking for trends in the data?

by lost_librarian_

I’ve been a certified news hound about the ‘rona for the last month or so. Deep dives into the NYT, WSJ, Statnews, you name it. And of course many Reddit forums.

I’ve noticed many people from all sides of the political spectrum and from all over the country are looking for trends in the numbers. I used to think about adding my own points to the discussions but then realized: isn’t it just too early to draw substantive conclusions about, well, ANYTHING?

Considering a) how pathetic our testing numbers are b) the patchwork approach to reporting (some states/counties don’t report “possible” COVID deaths for example) and c) the lag in numbers due to the incubation period — shouldn’t we as laypeople just stop trying to find trends in the data? For lay people like myself and so many others, comparing varying data sets considering the huge amount of variables and unknowns isn’t just apples to oranges — it’s a fruit salad.

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The final analysis will be a long way from now (at least a year). Once I realized it’s useless for a layman like me to find trends in numbers I don’t fully understand, I actually got a lot of peace.

Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Practice social distancing when you have to go out. I think that’s really all we know for sure now.