Correlations & Covid Misperceptions

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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22 Responses

  1. Saul Degraw says:

    Does this go for differences between partisanship and negative partisanship though? Also ideology.

    From what I understand, partisanship is high in Canada but negative partisanship might not be. Also there is less unmooring of conservatives from reality in other countries. Plus less hardcore devotion to welfare state slashing/”free market” rules everything ideology.

    Canada has more bipartisan cooperation under COVID than the U.S. does. In the U.S., we still have Richard Epstein attempting to “well actually….” public health experts and epidemiologists despite the fact that he got called out massively a few weeks ago for doing this. He seemingly has no shame. Here is Richard Epstein going “well actually….:” in the Hoover Institution:

    There is a lot of strangeness here. He gives the NY Times way more power than it has and why isn’t the Hoover Institution too embarrassed to put this up?Report

  2. Saul Degraw says:

    Not only that but Richard Epstein blatantly attempts to hide the fact that he originally said only 500 COVID deaths:

  3. Jaybird says:

    I remember having a conversation a couple of weeks ago about the lockdown and people were talking to me about getting antsy in the pantsy and wanting to leave and get out and socialize with people again.

    I said something to the effect of “the virus is patient” and I got told that I was… I don’t remember the exact criticism. It wasn’t that I was wrong, it was that I wasn’t doing a good job of communicating how much I cared and, anyway, something about human nature.

    Anyway, Colorado has announced plans to announce plans to move from “Stay At Home” to “Safer At Home”. The former seems to be defined as “75%-80% physical distancing” and the latter defined as “60-65% physical distancing”.

    Anyway, you can check out a pdf of the plan here.

    I’d kinda like the number of infections to go down, rather than merely the rate of new infections going down… but, anyway, the Stay At Home order ends on Sunday.

    We’ll see what happens in May.Report

  4. Urusigh says:

    I think it’s worth noting that unless these surveys used a significantly different question set than YouGov, there’s at least two flaws in their methodology regarding both risk perceptions and behaviors, in both cases by ignoring the relevant base rate.

    Regarding risk perceptions, survey questions did not correlate actual risk in participant’s area to reported perceptions of risk (e.g. something as simple as cross-matching local population density and current known cases would have given some indication of actual risk of transmission threat to participant, rather than comparing all participants against national averages, AFAIK this was not done).

    Regarding willingness to change behaviors, survey questions expressly instructed participants to NOT include behaviors that they already practiced for other reasons prior to COVID-19 (i.e. introverts who already practiced social distancing and routinely washed/sanitized hands/surfaces would therefor have to leave those practices blank because that did not involve a “change in behavior”; thereby conflating those who were already practicing appropriate mitigations with those who were not and still refused to do so, thereby distorting estimates of overall compliance with mitigation measures.

    This implies that the study authors have insufficient data to actually come to any conclusions about behavioral change or the effectiveness thereof. On the one thing they can speak to, it is encouraging that critical thinking cuts down on misinformation, but that’s hardly surprising.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Urusigh says:

      It’s a little surprising. In other contexts cognitive ability correlates with justifying existent biases Report

      • DavidTC in reply to Will Truman says:

        In other contexts cognitive ability correlates with justifying existent biases

        I’m kinda wondering how many _existing_ biases we had about pandemics?

        I know the Republicans tried to _create_ some, but…that was very shallow and I don’t think they stuck with anyone who was paying attention. And those weren’t ‘existing’ biases, keyword ‘existing’.

        Like, October, 2019, what would you say the appropriate response to a pandemic would be? I’d literally never given it any thought. I’ve actually been startled by several things that have been suggested…and then I sit down and think about them, and do research, and say ‘Alright, that makes sense’. But…before this? No. Never really thought about it.

        So maybe that’s why this is different. People keep trying to politicize this, but you can’t retroactively make things people already believe into polarizing political positions. You have to make them into polarizing positions _before_ people pick what they believe about them, so people can pick ‘the right things’.Report

        • Will Truman in reply to DavidTC says:

          In this case, the bias would be political comfirmation. The facts of the pandemic lining up with the political ramifications.

          What’s kind of funny is that I have actually seen a lot of this! On Twitter especially, but also on Facebook. People that needed to believe that C19 wasn’t especially serious – because it would make Trump look bad, or because it might justify enormous state intervention – found ways not to. (I have seen some of the flip, but that turned out to be less inaccurate.)

          So what kind of surprises me here is that apparently this isn’t occurring on a polling level. Just the people I have with online for the most part.Report

          • DavidTC in reply to Will Truman says:

            People that needed to believe that C19 wasn’t especially serious – because it would make Trump look bad, or because it might justify enormous state intervention – found ways not to.

            I’ve seen that on Facebook, too, and then I’ve seen the exact same people three weeks later arguing that Democrats inhibited Trump’s response and their response was worse than his.

            I think what’s going on is that people need a long inoculation period to be able to deny reality. They can easily believe stupid things at the start, things they aren’t sure about, and the media is telling them what they should believe.

            But at some point reality becomes obvious. And they have to have been infected with anti-thought years ago, and be willing to go into outright delusional conspiracies…or it falls apart and they actually accept reality and start trying to move the goal posts where they never were wrong.

            COVID-19 has reached the point of reality. And…there a few deniers still, people who got a really broad spectrum anti-thought infection years ago, but most people…are like ‘Yeah, this is a thing, kinda sucks, we’re dealing with it okay,’ with various levels of annoyance at it and someone slight wishful thinking that some thing maybe were different, and maybe we got thing good enough now? I get the wishful thinking, from people who, like the articles says, don’t really understand it that well.

            Oh, and if people online don’t match polls…assume there’s a lot of trolls. That’s what I always do.Report

          • Brandon Berg in reply to Will Truman says:

            I think the flip side of this is all the people saying that this proves that Bernie Sanders was right all along, or how this proves that people who work at grocery stores should be paid more, because they’re the only ones whose work really matters, and what do you mean “supply” and demand? Or how this proves that UBI is a great policy.

            It’s not that the low-info left has higher cognitive sophistication than the low-info right; as with global warming, they’re leaning into this because they (incorrectly) think it validates all the things they already believed for entirely unrelated reasons. That it’s true is purely coincidental.Report

            • I pretty much agree with that.

              One of the things I am seeing now is an awful lot of predictions about how much worse things are going to be in the red states than they have been for the blue. Ostensibly because they’re taking fewer precautions, but I think part of it is that they need to believe it will for reasons of politics and fairness.

              This may come back to haunt me, but by and large I don’t think it will. I think what we’re going to find out is that by virtue of sprawl and distance, red states are going to generally get off better despite making fewer sacrifices.

              Or maybe I’m the one seeing what I need to see even if I turn out to be right…Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Will Truman says:

                I don’t know, I think you’re conflating red state vs blue states with rural areas vs urban. (Or the people thinking that are conflating them?) Red states have large cities. Blue state have rural areas.

                And New York is a huge outlier here because people don’t drive, which I’m convinced is like 90% of the reason it was so hard hit. I think the virus basically spread on the sidewalks, and mass transit, and taxis. And I think the reason other equally large cities didn’t have anywhere near that is simply because people use cars. (I say that despite being in favor of mass transit and walkable cities, but here…it kinda screwed everyone over.)

                And rural areas are probably going to get less hit, but what a lot of people have forgotten is…uh…rural hospitals are not in good shape right now. The only places with _any_ sort of extra capacity are in cities, rural areas _already_ didn’t have enough hospital beds, and nearly instantly ran out.

                Right now, people are getting transported to city hospitals, but…one, that assumes they’re close enough, and two….when the beds at the city hospital start running out, the local are standing there in line, and the people occupying the six beds at the rural hospital an hour away are not. Guess who gets the next bed?

                And we’re talking at the statistical level. Some rural areas are going to be fine, and others…look, the town I used to live in had, for groceries, a Walmart. And that was it, the actual grocery store closed. Someone breathes wrong there, it could get tons of other people, including a few employees, and then…everyone in town is screwed by the time anyone catches on. Rural people have less interaction, yes, but there’s also fewer places to _have_ interactions.

                So, like, yes, 9/10 rural areas might have almost nothing, but that last one…might get pretty big.

                That said…I’m also not sure they’re not taking precautions. I’m not even sure how much these ‘reopenings’ are even going to work.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to DavidTC says:

                I think red states will look better because they, in general, have more rural places. And their cities are now sprawled and suburban and there is less crowded public transportation. Maybe because they’re warmer. That sort of thing.

                Not saying there won’t be some bad spots though. Just that it won’t be as bad as a lot of people are waiting for it to be and expecting us to be on account of policy.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Will Truman says:

                When people in suburban areas go to work, aren’t their offices and salons and retail stores and restaurants pretty much the same as anywhere, though?
                When their children go to school aren’t their classrooms the same as anywhere?
                Are the pews in their churches any different?

                I’m thinking the biggest difference will be whether people practice good hygiene like masks and handwashing and physical distancing.

                And if the general attitude becomes one of nonchalance and complacency, that this is all some overblown hoax, then that will likely be the biggest variable.Report

              • Classrooms are closed and are likely to remain so, even in Red America.

                All of the things you cite are reasons why they won’t be spared. Fewer chances of exposure overall, even if there are plenty of chances.

                I also think the cases of maximum risk-taking are getting a lot of publicity, and that may skew perceptions about how seriously it is actually being taken. Exaggerating the differences. People are mistaking “More people are not taking it seriously in these places” with “People aren’t taking it seriously.” (Those pictures of the Florida beach… people are actually maintaining some distance there.)

                And they had the advantage of taking it more seriously before it had too much of a chance to spread. Our county was not as deeply effected when we shut down our schools as Loudoun County was when they shut theirs down, and others that shut down when we shut down were not as infected as we were, and so on.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Will Truman says:

                I also think the cases of maximum risk-taking are getting a lot of publicity, and that may skew perceptions about how seriously it is actually being taken. Exaggerating the differences.

                This, a billion times over.

                The media is incredibly excitable, and there’s a particular form of right-wing ‘reality creators’, who have been exciting the media for literally over a decade at this point, creating protests out of nothing…sometimes these protests turn into something, like the Tea Party, and sometimes it’s just complete made-up nonsense consisting of no people. (Meanwhile, actual protests get totally ignored.)

                These ‘protests’, as of now, are still complete made-up nonsense consisting of no people. You can tell that even the people who _do_ show up aren’t really on board, because they’re still staying in cars and wearing masks and the sort of things that people who _actually_ think we should drop all restrictions won’t be doing.

                However, this will be treated as an utterly-serious thing by the utter morons in the media, who are too stupid to grasp people have manipulated them in exactly this way for decades.(1) This which will move the Overton window into outright stupidity and we’ll all die except the Koch brothers, who will become richer by another 0.01% because they are psychopaths.

                This really already has started, with governors reopening things, although a lot of that is an attempt to kick business off any sort of aid, force the business to reopen, and thus kick people off the unemployment roles. Moving the Overton window is just an way to _justify_ that. Or…even just pretend to justify it, pretend this is a logical move in the political realm and not a ‘We don’t want the government to spend money on this’.

                1) All in the guise of being ‘objective’. That’s not what ‘objective’ means. If the media wants do ‘objective’ coverage of protests, they need to write some sort of hard limit down: For every X people who are protesting, we will cover them for Y days, or something like that. Something like that, it probably shouldn’t be linear, but, like actual numeric rules, taking into account regional distribution and stuff like that. Make a spreadsheet with equations on it, plug the estimated numbers in.

                And amazingly, huge amounts of these right wing ‘protests’ would completely vanish, and meanwhile they’d find themselves, for some reason, having to cover pipeline protests and BLM protests, and all sorts of stuff they just totally ignore because it isn’t pumped directly into their ear at 120 decibels by the right-wing noise machine.Report

  5. PD Shaw says:

    I assume this is somewhat a corrective of this study:

    “We use geolocation data to document that political beliefs present a significant limitation to the effectiveness of state-level social distancing orders. Residents in Republican counties are less likely to completely stay at home after a state order has been implemented relative to those in Democratic counties. We also find that Democrats are less likely to respond to a state-level order when it is issued by a Republican governor relative to one issued by a Democratic governor. These results are robust to controlling for other factors including time, geography, local COVID-19 cases and deaths, and other social distancing orders. We conclude that bipartisan support is essential to maximize the effectiveness of social distancing orders.”

    Political Beliefs affect Compliance with COVID-19 Social Distancing OrdersReport

    • Michael Cain in reply to PD Shaw says:

      This NYTimes map shows decreases in travel by county. On it, the arc of the Great Plains jumps out (if you know what you’re looking for). Across much/most of the GP, people already traveled relatively seldom — and they didn’t give up the weekly trip to town for groceries and other errands. The map shows scattered GP counties colored “no travel”. I suspect those are actually “no data”, and the dark strip is even darker than shown.Report

      • PD Shaw in reply to Michael Cain says:

        I’m not sure where the NYTimes got its data, but the “Political Beliefs” study claims that its use of Safegraph data allows it to distinguish between travel for work vs. other, in order to avoid the study simply reflecting urban vs. rural divides.

        IOW, in places like Chicago with some of the longest commute times in the country, not going to work could theoretically leave a lot of time “banked” to drive around during the day and still have net-reductions in driving. OTOH, rural areas may find small retail shut-down or the need to drive further for essential services in the face of government policy.Report

  6. Mr.Joe says:

    Things are changing fast. Partisanship too. The survey was taken Match 24th. Anecdotally, my Trump supporting friends and I were much much coser to agreement on basic facts on March 24th than we are now.Report