IDK who needs to hear this but in the context of COVID “driven” is a term that implies a level of causal primacy which is almost always untrue and for the establishment of which we generally do not have sufficient data nor methods.
Our data and methods can tell us whether an activity or a location is one cause among many. For COVID, places that facilitate transmission include bars and restaurants and schools and nursing homes and prisons and workplaces and households and parties and so so many others
We do not collect the right data nor, in absence of data, have good methods to identify which is the PRIMARY cause of the pandemic. We do not establish for each case where & from whom that person got infected nor where & to whom they transmitted. We do not identify every case.
In all truth, it is likely that there is not one single primary transmission source. If we prevent transmission in one place, it can and likely will still happen other places. There is no single “driver” of the pandemic.
When people say “X is not a driver of COVID” they are playing you.

They are trading on the ambiguity of the word “driver” to imply both “one cause of transmission among many” and “the only cause of transmission which if we could stop would mean no more infections”.
Yes, X is almost certainly NOT the one and only cause or facilitator of transmission. No, that does not mean that X is not a place or activity where significant amounts of transmission occurs.

Stop looking for an easy fix.
To prevent misunderstandings please know, I am specifically talking about the use of the term “drivers” in public #scicomm 👇🏼

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More from @EpiEllie

3 Jan
I will miss George immensely. I learned so much from him, not just about epidemiology & how to do research, but about how to be a great mentor & a great human being. George always made time to talk with students about anything & everything and encouraged me in so many ways.
George served on my doctoral committee, and as a co-Investigator on my first ever NIH grant, which would never have gotten written, much less accepted, without his support and guidance and friendship.
I’m sure many many other epidemiologists can say the same about George & I hope everyone will share their stories. He has impacted so many people so deeply.
Read 4 tweets
31 Dec 20
I did a TON of things in 2020, but one thing I didn't manage to keep up with is writing #tweetorials for all of the academic papers I published.

So here's a thread of very short summaries of the papers I've been a part of. Let me know which ones you want to hear more about!
My first paper of 2020 was the final paper from my dissertation. I really love this paper because it packs so many ideas into such a short amount of text, but one thing I regret is not giving it a more general title.

journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.117…
Despite the title's focus on individual-level simulation models, the paper has important implications for all mediation analyses and for defining causal questions for non-manipulable exposures.

journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.117…
Read 38 tweets
29 Dec 20
Despite the pandemic, 2020 was a wildly productive year for me academically. A big reason is I took the advice of my mentor, @_MiguelHernan, and as a postdoc & junior faculty said "yes" to every opportunity I could, in order to learn what did and didn't work for me.
Some things I've learned: A🧵
* In person talks & workshops are so energizing to me and can lead to great collaboration opportunities.
* Online talks are draining & make it much harder to network.
* Guest lectures can be fun, but recorded guest lectures are more bang for my buck.
* Doing peer review was a good use of time when I was learning to write & publish papers, but less now I am so busy.
* Pre-prints are a valuable way to get rapid feedback + reduce the pain of publication timelines.
* @UpcycledScience is a great tool for desk drawer papers.
Read 6 tweets
29 Dec 20
This past semester I taught two courses: an advanced (causal inference) methods course, and an outbreak investigation course.

I’d like to share some thoughts on teaching during a pandemic.

🪡🧵
1. The pandemic is the major thing happening in everyone’s lives, in one way or another. Acknowledge that it exists and state clearly how your course expectations are changing because of it.
1b. Change your course expectations because of the pandemic! Relax late work policies, provide alternative grading options for people that need more flexibility, use projects or homeworks rather than exams, find ways to allow for asynchronous course participation.
Read 10 tweets
28 Dec 20
On the first day of Christmas, my quarantine activity:
A puzzle of a pear tree
On the second day of Christmas, my quarantine activity:
Two knitted gloves
And a puzzle of a pear tree
On the third day of Christmas, my quarantine activity:
Three French crime shows
Two knitted gloves
And a puzzle of a pear tree
Read 5 tweets
26 Dec 20
There’s a lot of talk about how anti-expertise sentiment is problematic, but I’d like to offer a slightly different take.

The issue isn’t that people don’t want to listen to experts, it’s that experts aren’t being honest with ourselves about the limits of our own knowledge.

🧵
Although many people take the concept for granted, KNOWLEDGE is a hard thing to define.

Philosophically, to *know* something you generally need three things: (1) for it actually to be true; (2) for you to believe it is true; and (3) for you to have learnt it in a reliable way.
The first requirement—that the think you think you know is actually true—is something we can’t ever really be sure of because The Truth is largely an unknowable philosophical mystery, in the same way that a perfect circle is an idea that doesn’t exist in the world.
Read 25 tweets

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