Nate Silver, the founder of controversial political and statistical analytics service FiveThirtyEight, has come out squarely in the camp that holds that governments overreacted to the Covid crisis, saying that all of the shutdowns may have been a mistake. Nate Silver made the comments in a series of tweets in which he blamed a number of factors for the mistakes in governments’ Covid policies, not the least of which were political considerations.
“COVID decision-making is happening under very high stress and uncertainty,” Nate Silver tweeted for example, implying that stress was to blame in some way for Covid overreactions. “The right decisions aren’t at all obvious. People (especially smart people) are rationalization machines. Partisanship is a helluva drug. It’s going to be something to cling to *even if not intentionally*!”
“I just don’t see how one can look at the totality of public health decisions during the pandemic and not see huge biases toward political “in” groups, as well as toward the preferences (political preferences, risk-tolerance preferences) of the people making the decisions,” added Nate Silver.
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“It’s kind of crazy,” he said, “(and tells you a lot about who was writing the restrictions) that churches in some jurisdictions were subject to more restrictions than museums! Not even attempting to follow any sort of epidemiological principles.”
And Nate Silver also pointed out how cultural differences between different countries affected government responses to the Covid pandemic.
“Thread comparing different methods of calculating excess mortality in Sweden,” he tweeted. “Sweden had among the lowest excess death rates in Europe despite a relatively lax approach to COVID lockdowns. Sweden did have decently high excess mortality during the first year or so of the pandemic, but it’s made up for it by having very low excess mortality since then. A lot of narratives about it are out-of-date. “
“Yeah this is true,” added Nate Silver. “Not to mention public transit and public schools, where the pandemic is still having reverberations. So while I’m arguing that these decisions were influenced by “politics”, it’s complex because political or ideological commitments tug in different directions.”