Where’s the Statisticians, the Mathematicians?

I just realised the whole Covid mess is about statistics and maths, isn’t it?

There’s whole towns in Aus here walking around wearing masks and pretending to do ‘distancing’ and closing businesses, etc. etc,  all because Covid,  last seen hundreds and hundreds of kilometres away and supposedly immediately well locked up – might suddenly appear and start infecting people.

A chance, see?

There’s assumed to be a chance that it will  happen.

A chance that is large enough to justify the imposition of these measures that don’t have some kind of remote chance of causing harm but in fact start doing it immediately.

Then they do things like ‘relax’ the impositions.  All all the basis of chance.  Like today you can have 5 people in that room you only could have 4 people in yesterday.

Or you can have 20 people in your shop instead of 15.

Or you can now open these businesses where yesterday they had to be closed.  That just happened here.  Now you can open your gym.

Now that’s presumably – definitely – predicated on ‘chance’.

They have calculated that the chance of someone getting covid in those settings has somehow been reduced to where they can ‘relax’ these prohibitions by that much.

They, of course, let’s pretend, have calculated that the chances of these ‘settings’ in such and such a place are appropriate – they ‘match’ – the prevailing ‘chances’ existing outside the premise doors.

Obviously.  If the chances outside the door are such that nearly any person who comes in will have covid then you’d have to have a setup inside where the chance of passing covid on are diminishingly small.

And the other way round.  So if the chances of having covid outside were nil then the setup inside could be such that you’d inevitably get covid if you were in there and someone had it – but no one will have it because they can’t because we know the outside is totally absent covid.

So it is all ‘chances’, isn’t it?

That’s another word for ‘Probabilities’.

They are a big deal.  Quantum mechanics is all Probabilities.  Our world being build on quantum mechanics nowadays, courtesy of our satellite comms,  there’s heaps and heaps of people who very well understand all about Probabilities and calculating them.

In fact there probably always have been.  There’s always been a surprising (to us unmathematically inclined) number of people with amazing mathematical abilities.

So to make sense of it all we just need to  know all about these Probabilities.  We could then walk in step with the governments, couldn’t we?

Shoulder to shoulder.  We’d agree totally with every move.

But there’s not a word.  Not a figure.  Not a Probability ever put before us.

No famous mathematicians or unfamous mathematicians trying to get our attention,  trying to put facts and figures and calculations before us.

The nearest I can think of is the statisticians who look at the data and draw conclusions from it regarding infection rates and such.  They would be an integral part of the whole thing but they don’t go on from there and lay out the Probabilities as they pertain to your corner grocery in woop-woop NSW, do they?

Or even the Woollies in woop-woop.

And we need to know the Probabilities so that appropriate measures can be adopted.  Whether to close places up.  Whether to tell people to keep their distance.  Whether to tell them to wear masks.  Whether to tell me not to touch.  And so on…

And Probabilities to cover every eventuality within reason.  I mean windy or not windy outside,  I mean hot or cold, in sunshine or out of it,  I mean air conditioned inside or not  I mean high ceilinged or low, I mean fans or no fans, open windows or closed windows…. humidity… vapour pressure..

Needs highly skilled, highly technical,  very well versed mathematical people to do all those calculations.

And clearly they’ve been done else our govts wouldn’t be happily and so promptly and in so much detail laying out these conditions, would they?

They must know what they’re doing mustn’t they?

Well  how about letting us in on it?

Why isn’t it a hot topic of discussion amongst mathematicians and statisticians young and old?

Why are we hearing nothing about it?

It goes on:  consider the question of ‘Emergency’.

None of these ‘laws’,  these ‘mandates’,  would be legal if it were not for a ‘State of Emergency’.

You know?  You know that, of course.  A ‘State of Emergency’ has to be declared by each State Parliament and then they can let the dogs loose.  Excuse the metaphor.

They can then make laws ‘off the cuff’,  they can ‘govern by fiat’,  they can do all the things that in a parliamentary democracy they are forbidden to do.

And that’s exactly what happens.  What has happened and what is still happening.  States of Emergency are declared by the Parliaments and then they start issuing the laws.  And the coppers then start arresting people on beaches and pregnant women at home.  And quite right, too, of course, else they wouldn’t do it. You can’t make a good man do things beyond his conscience.

Now here’s the point:  A State of Emergency also depends wholly on Probabilities, doesn’t it?

If there’s no chance of covid coming into your State then there’s no Emergency, is there?

If covid coming into your State is in fact just the same as a common cold coming into  your State then there’s no Emergency, is there?

If covid coming into  your State is in fact just the same as a severe flu coming into your State then there’s no Emergency, is there? Well there never has been.  In the past.

But at the other end of the scale if there’s a Probability that covid will certainly come into your State and infect and kill everyone well by God there’s a State of Emergency of the highest order, isn’t there?

Now somewhere between the two lies the true state.

Somewhere between no chance of entry and no chance of significant harm and every certainty of entry and significant harm.

And these things can’t be measured!  They are not measured. You can’t take a tape measure to them.  Run a ruler over them.  They are estimated.  By calculating Probabilities.

We don’t even know what level of Probability the govt is using for a trigger for declaration of State of Emergency!

Do we?  We’re not told.  We don’t even ask.

But they must be asking in Parliament, mustn’t they? For that’s their duty.  Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition must be questioning the Government very closely on exactly what figures they have for Probabilities and where they get them from and what they use for a ‘trigger’ point for the declaration.

It would probably be a bone of hot contention what the Probabilistic figure should be before a State of Emergency should be declared.

For, of course, the other edge of the sword: the Probabilities of harm from interventions would also be closely monitored and calculated.

They’d have to be, wouldn’t they?  You can’t take measures to protect people that harm more than they protect.

And in both instances the measuring can only be done by estimating Probabilities which, as I say, as anyone can see, requires those excellent mathematical skills that astound us all but which build this modern world of ours.

The two sets of Probabilities are juxtaposed and the steps we should take in the future become manifest.  The lesser of two evils is what we do, of course.

So where are the maths? What are the Probabilities?  Where are the mathematicians and statisticians, academics, theorists. etc. etc…

They are missing from the debate.  And no one seems to be calling for them.  Well I am.

I would like to know what’s going on.  Get a handle on it. Get some measures.

From people who know how to calculate.