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The War between Experience and Credentials

Original Article

Posted By: Judy W., 5/6/2020 7:51:17 AM

DURING this entire epidemic, and the response to it, there is a growing tension between front-line doctors and scientific researchers, between people who must use and master numbers in their jobs and university statisticians and modelers, and between the public in general and its credentialed experts. In a nutshell, the divide reflects the ancient opposition between empiricism and abstraction — or more charitably common sense and practical application versus scientific knowledge. When the two are combined and balanced, then knowledge advances. When they are not, both are deprived of the wisdom of the other. Unfortunately, in the present crisis, we have listened more to the university modeler than to a numbers-crunching accountant.


I love the way VDH tells stories from history that bear directly on his current subject.

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Reply 1 - Posted by: Falconer 5/6/2020 8:08:14 AM (No. 402337)
Experience is the best teacher.
5 people like this.

Reply 2 - Posted by: IowaDad 5/6/2020 8:17:09 AM (No. 402350)
VDH is overly kind to the CDC. It is serious AWOL. No science, an appalling failure to produce a routine PCR test, lousy data collection, dreadful data display and faulty analysis. The CDC may have exceeded is sell by date.
13 people like this.

Reply 3 - Posted by: coyote 5/6/2020 8:20:04 AM (No. 402353)
Another way to put it; a war between orthodoxy and progress (not progressivism).
5 people like this.

Reply 4 - Posted by: Avanti1 5/6/2020 8:38:04 AM (No. 402376)
The influence of a political agenda is also critically important. Most of the comments in this article apply equally to "global warming" or "climate change" hype.
12 people like this.

Reply 5 - Posted by: Clinger 5/6/2020 8:39:28 AM (No. 402378)
I have witnessed this conflict in industry for over 40 years. Part of the whole renaissance of employee engagement is about this very thing. I have an approach to developing continuous improvement programs that rely on data and analysis driven by six sigma "experts": Build your measurement, data collection and analysis infrastructure while you still know the obvious priorities and make sure your fancy system can tell you exactly what you already know. Because when you run out of the obvious things to do and are ready for the next steps, you need to know the system works in keeping with your instincts and seat of the pants experience based knowledge. Same thing here only the powers that be have trusted the system in deference to the front line experienced based common sense. When we do that in industry we get our behinds kicked by wiser competitors, in healthcare we kill people.
10 people like this.

Reply 6 - Posted by: HotRod 5/6/2020 8:41:06 AM (No. 402380)
The CDC is a bureaucratic organization, not a practicing clinic or hospital. It has a vested interest in promoting actions that allow it to be important and respected. In other words, given the opportunity, it's leadership will feather it's own nest. Why does it think it knows better than the doctors and researchers out in the World? The same reason that the General sitting in the Pentagon, whose fortunes are dependent on politicians, pretends to know better than the officers and NCOs on the front lines! The General must satisfy the politicians, who have special interests. The front line troops, with direct knowledge and most current information, must face the enemy. Models are like plans. They seldom hold up as experience mounts...
13 people like this.

Reply 7 - Posted by: mathman 5/6/2020 8:47:55 AM (No. 402391)
OUCH! VDH nails it,once again. Look at the hydroquinone vs remesdivir quarrel. One medication in use for years, the other untested. One medication old enough to be generic, the other costing $1000 per dose. Guess which one Fauci wants us to use. Big Pharma, anyone? Corrupt. Evil. Nasty. Deadly. But State approved. Hooray for State!
18 people like this.

Reply 8 - Posted by: ROLFNader 5/6/2020 8:48:50 AM (No. 402395)
It would be like having a NHTSA bureaucrat repair your car.
9 people like this.

Reply 9 - Posted by: chumley 5/6/2020 9:26:16 AM (No. 402459)
The TV news is always interviewing "experts". As far as I can tell, being right is not a prerequisite to being called an expert in anything. Just slap some initials after the name and call it good. We are better off using a magic 8 ball to get answers.
7 people like this.

Reply 10 - Posted by: Strike3 5/6/2020 9:58:50 AM (No. 402516)
Good analysis. When you have five confirmed cases in an entire country, your chances of picking up the virus from a shopping cart at the WalMart are slim to none. Those people giving you nervous glances in the aisle are the ones drinking lots of kool-aid.
6 people like this.

Reply 11 - Posted by: Strike3 5/6/2020 10:02:41 AM (No. 402526)
Excellent post, #5. In my last job we had one of those highly paid Six Sigma people who constantly showed us millions of dollars in savings on paper but for some reason the costs never went down and production output remained the same.
6 people like this.

Reply 12 - Posted by: MDConservative 5/6/2020 10:25:53 AM (No. 402566)
Following the experts is the politicians' way of avoiding criticism later. What was done was following the advice of those who know best, whether they do or not is immaterial. But let's not kid ourselves. This "flu pandemic" grew out of a confluence leading to our current state of alarm: It came from China (from eating bats, or brewed in some lab as a weapon, or from filthy wet markets, or...) and it killed thousands, corpses lining the streets, so many the crematoriums couldn't keep up and the resultant smoke choked the air. It was something out of a Fu Manchu novel. Another "Yellow Peril" plot against the West. Plenty of smuggled video and all to go with the story. Italy (primarily the Milan area) gets hammered. The old folks dropping like flies. Same story of corpses uncollected and overwhelmed mortuaries. It was out of control, said the experts. Pressure on countries to close borders, etc. And when it appeared in the US it became bedlam. From the White House to the Governors mansions, the Congress to legislatures...all the way to town halls "something had to be done". The experts spoke and keep changing their tales because this is all so novel and continually morphing. We, the people, demanded what we now have - lockdowns here and there, and great civic/commercial curtailment everywhere. TRILLIONS were taken from the already-empty Treasury to "save the nation", including government cheese checks for everyone. We failed the test as a "democracy", completely surrendering to a technocracy riddled by bad information, bad modeling, special interests, politicians and profiteers, and so on. We made heroes out of healthcare workers, store cashiers and truck drivers, while creating financial instability everywhere else. And we are still in surrender weeks later...BUT WAIT! Now there is a more dangerous second wave coming...the virus morphed! Ready for Round Two?
9 people like this.

Reply 13 - Posted by: The Remnants 5/6/2020 11:01:15 AM (No. 402610)
Dr. Hanson must be an excellent teacher, probably because he gets out of the faculty lounge and copes with some real problems as a farmer. You have to wonder when was the last time the Expert Three - Fauci, Birx, and Redfield treated someone who was ill.
7 people like this.

Reply 14 - Posted by: Lonestar Jack 5/6/2020 11:52:15 AM (No. 402660)
It is simple math --- Valid Death rate for COVID-19 = Valid Number of COVID-19 deaths divided by the Valid Number of COVID-19 cases. Simple math - even my old TI calculator can do that one and likewise my old slipstick (slide rule for you youngsters) if I could find it. Garbage in ---> model (manipulation of numbers and assumptions) ===> garbage out - to paraphrasing a popular saying. Remember a model is made up of only numbers and operands like (+,-,/,square root,powers,mean,mode,etc., arbitrary variables or factors, and some time honored formulas such as standard deviation and sample size). Number of deaths is probably a good or close to good number. It is hard to hide many corpses. But can be jiggled for political purposes. i.e deaths of patients not really caused by the virus. Take for instance an obese patient with COVID-19 and an ingrown toe nail. Is the death caused by obesity or OVID-19 or by ingrown toe nail? Take your pick but remember 42% of natural caused deaths are obesity related. Granted OVID-19 can be a contributing factor. Number of COVID-19 patients is very unreliable due to minimal testing of the total population and a guess at number of uncounted occurrences and the asymptomatic cases. Model specifics and authors haven't been revealed "for safety of modelers". Probably a smart move. Is easier to manipulate in the shadows. Good modelers test their accuracy against empirical data and I haven't seen that yet because it can show the authenticity of a suspect model. Another good reason to hide the formulas and authors. The problem arises when they try to project the two data points of deaths and population. Here is where the models are failing. Ever get caught in the rain without an umbrella because of a glitch in the weather forecast? Same thing. A projection is still just a guess. Then we see that Garbage out (the number fed to the President by CDC) is derived from maybe a 90% reliable death number and a highly suspect projected population number being mathematically masticated in a model into a completely unreliable number from which unsophisticated minds decide that we shut down the economy. It really is garbage in and garbage out, but what other metrics does Trump have? When the facts are all in I am sure the death rate will be a lot lower than what the models foretasted specially if you take out the big city numbers. On top of all this - America is such a diverse country that one set of rules does not fit all. Why should mid America be bound to rules for New York or even have to pay for the New York vertical living structure (people per square foot) and poor attitude culture? Trump's common sense 3 phase plan is a sensible plan going forward. It gives the responsibility to the governors with Federal over sight. The weak spot lies in the ability of the governors to lead the way. After all they weren't elected for their brilliant leadership knowledge in the first place and their staffs upon who they rely are political rewards in many cases. I doubt that many of the egocentric govs will give away the power to open up to the counties. To get to the point: Why then does the economy have to be shut down? Just because President Trump orchestrated the path to a booming economy? Yes, this can not be allowed to continue according to the main stream media and the Washington elite.
5 people like this.

Reply 15 - Posted by: DVC 5/6/2020 1:06:06 PM (No. 402743)
I agree entirely. And my view of many experts has been that way too many are what I call "narrow bandwidth" people. They know a lot about a VERY narrow field. I prefer, and have striven my entire life to be a wide bandwidth person. I have sought to cultivate knowledge from people in fields far from engineering, and get them to teach me of their knowledge. A microbiologist had helped me understand that field a bit, and building some of his lab equipment helped me learn more, too. And a botanist friend and I frequently go on canoeing and hiking trips in Florida where he teaches me about the plants and the hydrology of Florida. I learned huge amounts from the science projects I managed in the former soviet states. As to credentials - sometimes they are BS. I pointed out recently that I worked with two translators in Ukraine on a particular project. One translator had a state credential which 'proved' that he was an expert at technical translation. The other was an engineer on the project who had learned a little English in school, and read English books, taught herself to speak it. She made an effort to talk to me, and improve her English. The swill put out by the credentialed translator was almost unintelligible. The translations of the engineer started out as very good, and with a couple of years of gentle explanation and teaching by me, she became a superb translator, while the credentialed guy remained incompetent, AND DEFIANT, insisting that HE had the credentials, and HE needed to be the translator, trying to get her removed "because she has no credentials". I finally had to talk directly to the project leader to get the engineer assigned to do ALL the final reports so that we could read them. Often credentials are good, and fairly often, people with credentials are incompetent.
2 people like this.

Reply 16 - Posted by: jeffkinnh 5/6/2020 2:21:09 PM (No. 402835)
It is not only that the "experts" did not pay attention to those in the field but they also misportray the work they do. Such research is NOT a roadmap of reality. It is, at best, an estimation based on the available information and a simulation of the systems in play. All the inputs are approximations and guesses. The output level of certainty is usually worse than the inputs. That's just the way it works. There is nothing wrong with that as long as you ADMIT the situation. "Experts" hate to admit they are working with imperfect data. Ego is the problem.
1 person likes this.

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