How Twitter encourages smart people to look dumb

How Twitter encourages smart people to look dumb

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Yesterday, I saw a chart posted by a scientist in Iceland. Frankly, the chart was a mess – it compared Covid-19 “cases”, “vaccinated cases” and “boosted cases”, with boosted cases being a roughly straight black line at the bottom of the chart.

He said this proved that boosters work (this post is not about whether boosters work or not).

There were many problems with the chart but one was that the % of the population with boosters there is small. Consequently, the number of breakthrough “cases” in those with booster shots will be small and the comparisons shown are meaningless.

The problem: Twitter enables anyone to post something quickly without some time to think about it, or to have it reviewed by others. The effect is we get “Science by TwitterTM“. This is when otherwise smart people post things quickly that not well thought out – and then end up conveying the wrong message and/or require a string of tweets clarifying what was meant.

The end result is misinforming or confusing the public that sees these tweets. Right now, a LOT of these items come from those involved in some aspect of Covid-response – from science to practitioners to public health “experts”. Rather than informing the public, it just makes people confused.

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