Swedish Model Not Looking Very Pretty

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Posted: May 29, 2020 9:15 AM
Swedish Model Not Looking Very Pretty

Source: AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

I've read a lot of comments, especially from fellow conservative/libertarian types about how great 'the Swedish Model' is. Well unless by "Swedish Model" you mean some pretty girl named Inga, the data so far are not looking great. Sweden, as of a couple of days ago, seemed to have the highest rolling average of new CV deaths per million. Brazil and UK also took a dim view towards social distancing and they round out the three worst. Of course all of this is complex -- Sweden's cold climate might make a difference, but that factor hardly explains Brazil.

What we don't know is a lot. And it seems like the less we actually know, the more confident and vehement people are in their public pronouncements. When it comes to uncertainty, as Thomas Bayes said, we need to form priors, hypotheses based on our general knowledge (like coins usually come up heads about half the time), then as the data rolls in, we update that assumption (for example if you flip a coin and get 20 heads in a row, you have a pretty good reason to believe it is not a fair coin).

Priors are based on life experience and judgments about cause and effect. Then we update them for new experience and then form something called Posteriors (which despite the name, make it less likely that we will make asses of ourselves). But as far as I can tell, almost everyone is stuck on priors. "Experts are almost always right." "Experts are almost always wrong." "The media lie to hurt Trump." "Trump lies to hurt the media." "Big Pharma...blah, blah, blah." You've read them - they clutter up your social media feeds.

How many of the people you follow have genuinely updated their views now that we have months of new data? How many people instead just cut and paste selectively the thing which reaffirms their prior? How many people cut and paste links which are days or even weeks out of date. This data was published the same day I wrote this.

"This infographic looks at the rolling 7-day averages for new COVID-19 deaths per million people to get a picture of the countries currently suffering the worst effects of the coronavirus pandemic. At the top of the list as of May 27 is Sweden. The Nordic country has enforced few social distancing or lockdown rules and is now seemingly paying the price for this approach.

"The United Kingdom, which originally embarked on a similar strategy of aiming for herd immunity is also present in the top part of this ranking. Brazil, where President Bolsonaro staunchly rejects the efficacy of social distancing and blanket lockdowns is perhaps unsurprisingly in second place."