Friday, July 3, 2020

Just Numbers

Greetings any wondering blog readers.. This is my first post after a long hiatus.. no promises but i'll be doing post as often as the spirit hits me.. there's just too much going on in the world, and sometimes I need to vent what i'm feeling. So, yeah, my post here are about me, so proceed with caution..

Today's inspiration is about this article about China Virus in the prison system. I know, by definition people in prison are bad men (and women). But, as humans, they too deserve some dignity and, unless they are sentenced to death, do not deserve to die there. But this post is not about that.. no it's about numbers. Numbers which are easily calculated which the author of this article failed to do in lieu of a click grabbing headline.

Let me start out this with some basic math. Say Johnny has  barrel of 100 apples. Why is he keeping his apples in a barrel? I'm guessing they all did something to deserve to be in that barrel, like knifing other apples, selling flavor enhancing drugs to other apples, or general thuggery. Like most of God's creations, they are mostly good apples who did bad things. However, there are a few of them that, when tested, may have a disease that may result in them rotting and dying. Let's say there are 10 of them in this barrel that have tested positive. That means:

               10 bad apples / 100 good apples = 10% possible bad apples

Note in the above I say "possible". That's because in this scenario, the test used to determine that they are bad actually just test for pieces of the virus that just happens to be the same pieces of some viruses that are benign and don't cause horrific death so if the same test were run against Sally's barrel from the same orchard, the test might have said she had no infection. In fact, in a barrel completely filled actual dead and rotting bad apples, there a chance that there a significant portion which the test will indicate they are negative, despite their actual dying and rotting appearance. To know if they actually have the virus a real doctor would have to look at them and say they had it. Whoops! I've strayed from talking about basic math and delved into the fallacies of using a statistical assay method (PCR) for diagnosing diseases. My apologies.

Now that we understand the basic math, lets look at the calculations the author should have done for the noted article. First lets pull some actual "facts" from the article (*note "facts" are in quotes because the basic assumption that a positive test means the prisoner has the China Flu is flawed).

  1. There are 1.5 million prisoners in the prison system (1,500,000)
  2. the number of cases (*) of prisoners who have the China Flu will soon hit 50,000
  3. the number of recovered cases (*) is 27,715
  4. the number of prisoners who have died from the China Flu  (*) is 585
Ok - let's do some math.. taking the numbers from the above we have:

            50,000 cases / 1,500,000 = 3.33%

Even though that means 96.6% of the prisoners have no chance of getting sick, still that's not great. Of course if I had a 96.6% chance of hitting red every time at the casino roulette wheel, I would bet on red every time and all the casino's money would soon be mine! However, we are not talking money here (or maybe we are, but that sinister idea would put me in crazy land so i'm not going to go there.. yet), but human life. So let's talk about how this effects those very real human lives.

Let's look at item 3 instead and do the math on that:

           27,715 got sick an recovered / 1,500,000 = 1.84%

Because item 3 represents prisoners who recovered from the China Flu (assuming they were sick, then were tested for the antibodies which actually proves they had it.. a big assumption) well that's a better number. That means 98.15% of the prison population is safe from this. Well except for the 585 dead. Let's do the math on that:

          585 deaths / 1,500,000 = 0.039%

I don't have any experience with the prison system, but I am thinking that with this low percentage, an inmate has a better chance of slipping on a bar of soap in the shower and dying from the head injury than dying from the China Flu. In fact, i'd guess that the China Flu is probably the least deadly thing in the prison, which admittedly is a shamefully deadly place. Note that this assumes that these deaths are directly attributable to the China Flu and not incidental to some other illness that caused the death (like shivs, choking, or gang rape). Actually, given the poor nutritional content of most prisoners diet, it's very likely that these prisoners were in bad health or compromised in some other way.

One final Math thing before I sign off here:

          50,000 cases - 27,715 recovered = 22,285 somethings

See, as I understand it, the prison system is real good about counting the people they have. I mean they are constantly counting them.. in their cells every night, in and out of the exercise areas, before and after every meal, lots and lots of counting. So the question is, what happened to the 22,285 prisoners who tested positive but didn't get sick and recovered? If they had escaped, I'm sure I we would have heard about it. I guess a certain small part of them could have been released before they developed symptoms, but how irresponsible would it have been for the prison system to release known infected inmates into the general public?

I will assume that isn't happening. Instead, let's do some happy math:

          22,285 tested positive but didn't get sick / 50,000 positive test = 44% asymptomatic

Asymptomatic means your snot has pieces of something that may look like the virus, but it doesn't make you sick. That number is frightening large, but if test are only administered to people that may be sick (again 3.33% of the overall population), then its good news that almost half of them don't have something that might develop into something that might, in a very few people, result in death.

But these are just numbers.. If this is what is happening in an environment where people have to live, eat, and poop in very close proximity to their fellow man (or woman), perhaps those of us who occasionally pass a neighbor in a grocery aisle or on a mountain bike trail can take a deep breath and know it'll actually be ok.. i'm looking at you stupid governors who are closing parks for the 4th of July! Be Safe!

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