James Surowiecki Profile picture
Author of The Wisdom of Crowds. I blog at https://t.co/W3TS5jpnp5. I wrote The Financial Page for The New Yorker.
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24 Nov
1. Recent case data from Vermont, which has been seeing a Covid spike, points to the fact that kids are a big part of the rise in Covid cases, and to the effectiveness of boosters.
2. Kids under 10 now have the highest case rate of any age group in Vermont, and that's driven, unsurprisingly, by kids in school - you can see how kids aged 5 to 11 have seen their case numbers rise much more steeply than older or younger kids in recent weeks.
3. Obviously, kids are at relatively low risk from Covid. But it's worth keeping in mind when people say things like, "Why is a highly vaxxed state like Vermont seeing case rise?" that part of the answer is "Because a big chunk of the increase in cases is in unvaxxed kids."
Read 10 tweets
24 Nov
Every state Covid dashboard should include, at a minimum, 4 pieces of data:

# of new cases
# of new tests
positive-test rate
# of new hospitalizations (w/# of hospitalized people).

It's not that complicated. Every state has this information - just present it.
Vermont, for instance, gives you the number of new cases and the total number of people in the hospital with Covid. But it doesn't tell you how many new tests were done, so you have no idea if the case # reflects rising or lower incidence, or just fewer tests being done.
States should also give you the vaccination status of all new cases and hospitalizations, broken out into unvaccinated/partially vaccinated/fully vaccinated. (Oklahoma does this for hospitalizations.) But at the very least, get those 4 basic pieces of data on the front page.
Read 4 tweets
22 Nov
So is Aaron Rodgers' toe problem connected to Covid? He said it's not turf toe, and it didn't become an issue until after he got Covid. And for some ppl, "Covid toe" - swollen toes, often with lesions - is so painful that they find it hard to wear shoes.
espn.com/nfl/story/_/id…
In fact, though I missed this at the time, Rodgers actually said last week on The Pat McAfee Show that the toe "was a Covid injury." But no one thought he was being serious - in fact, he got attacked on Twitter by ppl who thought he was mocking Covid.
If true, this is kind of fascinating, since if Rodgers had gotten vaccinated this summer, he would have dramatically reduced his chances of developing symptoms like Covid toe. And interesting that all the treatments he took - ivermectin, MaB - apparently did nothing to help.
Read 5 tweets
14 Nov
1. US vaccination data is a mess. The New York Times, relying on data from the CDC, says that 99% of senior citizens have received at least one dose, as you can see below. That would mean there are only ~550,000 seniors in the whole US who haven't gotten at least one shot.
2. But the NYT also says that 17 different states have vaccinated 92% of their senior citizens or less, including big states like Texas, Ohio, and Michigan, and collectively, the number of unvaxxed seniors in those states alone add up to well over 550,000.
3. As I tweeted yesterday, these state-level estimates are already way too high (it claims 20 states have vaccinated more than 98% of seniors). But even if you accept those, the NYT's (which is to say, the CDC's) national estimate conflicts with its own state-level estimates.
Read 11 tweets
13 Nov
The CDC’s numbers for vaccination coverage of senior citizens in the US are improbably high. The CDC now claims 99.9% of seniors aged 65-74 have gotten at least one shot. That’s much higher than state depts of health estimate, and improbably, impossibly high.
Getting 99.9% of people to do anything is incredibly difficult, and the idea that we’ve managed to do it with something as politically polarized as the Covid vax just doesn’t pass the smell test.
Some of the difference between CDC data and state data has to do with vaccines administered by federal entities, but it’s hard to see how that explains Kansas, for instance, saying 85% of its seniors have gotten at least one dose while CDC says 99.9% have.
Read 5 tweets
11 Nov
1. Important article about the UK. Covid cases have now fallen, week over week, for 18 days. New hospitalizations and deaths have barely risen over the past month, and are far lower than they were last yr at this time, even though the UK is far more open.
ft.com/content/e11add…
2. Last year at this time in the UK, cases were rising at a fast clip, as were hospitalizations and deaths, and they continued to rise for more than 2 months. Right now, cases are falling, and hospitalizations and deaths are relatively flat. And it's because of the vaccines.
3. One thing the UK has done very well is vaccinate senior citizens, and it's now doing a good job of getting them boosters. (80% of 80+ have gotten boosters, and 69% of 70-79 have.) That's protecting them against infection, and also against severe illness and death.
Read 4 tweets
11 Nov
If you just learned yesterday that the people Kyle Rittenhouse shot were white, you have paid no attention to the case at all since it happened.
I don’t even know what the complaint here is: that the mainstream media should have made sure people who were no paying no attention at all to the case knew that the ppl Rittenhouse shot were white? How? CNN ran a big piece on the three guys when the trial started, with photos.
I will not be surprised if Rittenhouse gets off, and I have no idea if he’s a white supremacist or not. But the race of the people Rittenhouse shot has nothing to do with that question either way.
Read 4 tweets
8 Nov
Most Covid stories are about failure. Here's a new post about a success story: Puerto Rico. Despite having the highest poverty rate in the US, and a fragile healthcare system, it has one of the US' lowest Covid fatality rates:
gen.medium.com/puerto-rico-is…
:
Puerto Rico had a summer surge like other Sun Belt states. But it was much less devastating in its effect than in places like Mississippi, Tennessee, and Florida, in part because Puerto Rico has the highest vaccination rate of any U.S. state or territory.
Puerto Rico's performance was not something most people would have predicted, given the island's financial troubles, its still ongoing recovery from Hurricane Maria, and its poverty and college-grad rates, and the fact that in the US, Latinos have a higher Covid death rate.
Read 5 tweets
8 Nov
New piece from me about the "12 gallons of milk a week" segment and why, after more than a decade of people predicting inflation, we've finally seen it appear.

I don't think, btw, that the inflation we're seeing is a good thing. That's what the tweet says, not my article.
The thing that's often left out of inflation stories (and the CNN piece was no exception), is how unusual the Covid recession was, in the sense that lots of ppl, and not just rich ppl, came into the recovery with more money than they had when the recession started.
Ppl usually come out of recessions poorer. But in the case, the stimulus payments and enhanced UI benefits, coupled with a sharp reduction in consumer spending and a booming market made things v. different this time around.
Read 5 tweets
5 Nov
FFS.

“I’m not some antivaxxer. I’m just suggesting that there might be something questionable or fraudulent about the vaccines.”
State Farm, whose whole image is built on being trustworthy and reliable, would be absolutely foolish to keep this total flake on as a spokesperson.
Unsurprisingly, Rodgers said he's taking ivermectin. Ivermectin is made by another Big Pharma company, Merck. Yet for some odd reason Rodgers didn't mention anything about Merck being criminal or fraudulent - only the companies making vaccines.
Read 5 tweets
4 Nov
Here's a new interview I did with historian Paul Sabin, whose excellent new book "Public Citizens" shows how, paradoxically, left-liberals like Ralph Nader played a major role in bringing an end to New-Deal-style big-government liberalism in the 1970s.
yalereview.org/article/who-ki…
Public-interest liberals did a lot of good by identifying and attacking problems like regulatory capture, top-down urban planning, and the sacrifice of the environment in the pursuit of GDP growth. But in the process, they helped de-legitimize big-govt liberalism generally.
Sabin's book, and our interview, look at why this happened, and at the challenge of reviving a New-Deal-style vision of government without completely abandoning the public-interest perspective.
Read 5 tweets
3 Nov
New column on why high gas prices have a unique ability to make people feel gloomy about the economy. As I said a couple days ago, the crank theory that I nonetheless believe is that high gas prices were in part responsible for McAuliffe's defeat in VA.
gen.medium.com/gas-prices-are…
Gas prices are powerful in part simply because they're so much more *visible* than other prices - as you drive down the road, you're ceaselessly reminded of how much gas cost. So they're always salient, in the sense of being easy to call to mind.
And the impact of gas prices politically is also likely not symmetrical - politicians get punished more when gas prices spike (even though they have essentially no control over what's happening) than they get rewarded when gas prices fall.
Read 4 tweets
2 Nov
1. If the vaccines don't work, what's the explanation for why, in Connecticut, unvaxxed ppl are currently 18x more likely to be hospitalized for Covid than vaxxed ppl of the same age are, and 18x more likely to die from Covid. ImageImage
2. CT vaccinated its seniors early, so it isn't that the vaxxes haven't had time to wane in efficacy. Boosters haven't had time to have an effect, and anyway the unvaxxed's relative hospitalization and death risk has been high all along.
3. And say, as antivaxxers are wont to do, the deaths are "with Covid" rather than "from Covid." The question still stands: why are unvaccinated people being hospitalized and dying with Covid at such a higher rate than the vaxxed if the vaccines don't work?
Read 4 tweets
2 Nov
The Giants are hanging in there, but they're just no fun to watch. They're just such a clunky team. Clunky playcalling, clunky execution, clunky penalties. That was one of the worst end-of-the-half "drives" I've ever seen.
At least look like you know what you're doing out there, instead of bumbling around play after play.
Giants follow up a dismal end-of-the-1st-half drive with a dismal start-of-the-2nd-half drive. They're making the terrible Chiefs defense look good.
Read 5 tweets
30 Oct
This is completely false. Not an incorrect interpretation - totally false. To know the rate of hospitalization w/CLI for vaxxed/previously infected, you would need to know the age-adjusted pct of each in the outside pop. Study doesn't calculate that, because info doesn't exist.
To know whether vaxxed ppl were more likely to be hospitalized w/Covid-like illness, you would need to divide the number of vaxxed ppl hospitalized w/CLI by the # of vaxxed ppl in the community, and adjust for age (since older ppl are more likely to be hospitalized in general).
You would then need to divide the number of unvaxxed, previously infected ppl hospitalized for CLI by the number of those ppl in the community, and compare the rates. But we have no idea of how many unvaxxed, previously infected ppl there are, so the calculation is impossible.
Read 5 tweets
29 Oct
Actually, Puerto Rico has the lowest case rate in the US. It also has the highest vaccination rate in the US.

And one reason FL's case rate is low is that it tests so much less than other states: its positive-test rate is significantly higher than states like CT, VT, even LA.
Right-wingers complain about all the criticism of DeSantis. But if DeSantis and his shills would just stop the endless bragging and acknowledge that he and his team radically misjudged what was going to happen this summer, the criticism would be far more muted.
On July 13, Kyle Lamb - one of DeSantis' "data analysts" - tweeted that the summer surge "likely won't last very long." In fact it was just starting, and thousands of Floridians died over the next 2 1/2 months. Predictions are hard with Covid. But just admit they got it wrong.
Read 4 tweets
14 Oct
Stephen A. hits on one of the interestingly underdiscussed issues here, namely Kyrie's insistence on putting his own interests above the team's. Not surprising, given that the NBA is a star-driven rather than a team-driven league, but still striking.
By contrast, 99% of players in the NHL, which is exceedingly team-centered (for good and bad), are now vaxxed - all but four players in the entire league.
The men's major team sport with the lowest vax rate seems to be MLB, which makes sense, since it's the most individual of the four sports. Also interesting that pitchers have been among the most high-profile refuseniks.

By contrast, NFL has a very high vax rate.
Read 4 tweets
12 Oct
Lamar Jackson went 37-for-43 for 442 yards, 4 TDs and 0 INTs, and one fumble last night.

Mac Jones went 23-for-30 for 231 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT.

Lamar Jackson's Total QBR for the game was 67.4.

Mac Jones' was 66.3, just one point lower.

What a stat.
Of course, Jackson's performance, which you might have thought was one of the great performances by an NFL QB in recent memory, was far outshone, according to Total QBR, by Ryan Tannehill's 14-for-22 for 197 yards, which earned him a QBR of 74.3.
Once you start relying so heavily on EPA, you're essentially allowing luck to play a much bigger role in your overall evaluation of a QB's performance than it should.
Read 4 tweets
9 Oct
1. It's bizarre to argue, as Matt Taibbi does in this piece, that people writing about Merck's new Covid drug shouldn't bother mentioning that it's not a substitute for vaccination, and that doing so is a sign you're a "vaccine neurotic."
taibbi.substack.com/p/the-cult-of-…
2. Lots of ppl saw the news about Merck's drug and said, "Vaxxes aren't necessary now." (Some of them said this to me.) If you're a writer, and you know some of your readers are going to draw the wrong conclusion from your story, you have to do what you can to ensure they don't.
3. This isn't about a political debate - it's about reality. A drug that prevents 50% of Covid deaths in ppl who are already sick is objectively not a substitute for a vaccine that prevents 90+% of Covid deaths. And any reporter should make that clear.
Read 6 tweets
28 Sep
One problem with Total QBR as a stat is that it's a black-box stat. There's no way for a human to calculate it on their own, and no way for a human to know whether the computer's division of credit for EPA makes sense.
The value of Total QBR is that it recognizes that QB play is not independent of the work teammates do. (I'm less convinced its heavy emphasis on context makes sense, downweighting for garbage time aside, but whatever.) The price of this, though, is its black-boxness.
Dak Prescott went 21/26 for 238 yards with 3 TDs and 0 INTs last night. He had a QBR of 37.8.

Jameis Winston was 13/21 for 128 yards with 2 TDs and 0 INTs. QBR of 68.5.

Dak also lost a fumble and had 1 more sack. But I don't think anyone thinks Winston played almost 2x better.
Read 4 tweets
26 Sep
Kyrie will not be able to play in any home games for the Nets if he isn't vaxxed. That may not be a dealbreaker during the regular season. But the idea that the Nets would pay him a full salary while knowing he's going to miss 4 of 7 games every playoff round is absurd.
The Rolling Stone piece surprisingly doesn't say if players who can't play home games because they are unvaccinated will get paid for those games. (The stories about Wiggins have been similarly opaque.) Obviously they shouldn't get paid, but not clear if the CBA allows this.
Just yesterday I was wondering why ESPN's player rankings would have Devin Booker five places above Kyrie, who is objectively a far better player than Booker. The RS story provides the answer: Kyrie is a complete flake whom you cannot count on to even show up.
Read 4 tweets