Great News! Great Danes!

Well its not often that you have your faith in human nature restored, but that happened a few days ago. If you’ve been following my musings you will know that my faith in most professional scientists, particularly Government, University and Institutional ones is very low. The performance of the UK Pandemic Modelling teams is a classic example of how things can go wrong when the ‘Scientific Method’ is not used when doing work that MUST be scientific.

So our modellers basically started with a model that was wildly inaccurate, its predictions of infections, hospitalisations etc in the UK context were simply stupidly wrong. Still heavily influenced by Professor Ferguson of Imperial college their predictions were typically were 5 times out, i.e. 500% error! Consistently negative fear inducing predictions which Politicians then used to manipulate the population, mess up education, damage mental health and cripple the economy. Oh dear.
Now a good scientist would then say
“Hmmm, obviously what’s happening to the population is reality so my models must be wrong in some way”.

So then they should have used techniques, well known for hundreds of years, to improve and refine their models and then test them against reality again – to check that they had improved and were sufficiently accurate for the purpose they were to be used for.
Only if there was really good agreement between the modelled results and actual reality in the population should the models have been considered to be credible under the prevailing conditions. Sadly this did not happen in the UK.

Worst still the politicians were using the modelling results as predictions of the likely future development of the epidemic. Clearly stupid given the obvious known fact that the models were grossly inaccurate and the results they produced were grossly misleading. Several previous Posts on this site have pointed that out in the past.

Fortunately the Politicians (yes Boris got something right, but 2 years too late) realised they were being fed panic inducing junk information by their Modellers and started to listen to other information sources such as the South African Scientists who were tracking the Omicron strain of Covid-19.

But in Denmark the Danes seem to still have real scientists!!

They have just announced the ending of all Covid restrictions and are treating Covid now like any other disease. They say to the population

“If you get Covid then isolate for 3 days then act as normal, if it persists then stay isolated and seek medical help.” In effect they are treating it much like ‘flu. They are also prioritising protection for the vulnerable, as recommended by the Great Barrington Declaration. They are striving for Herd Immunity to finally break the epidemic.

The reason they have had the confidence to do this is because they have applied the scientific method rigourously. They have used modelling to gain a better understanding of the nature of the spread and evolution of the epidemic itself. When their models produced results that didn’t agree with reality in the population they looked at why and then adapted their models until they were reliably accurate. They also used simple graphing techniques to represent the modelled and real population figures on the same diagram. They also were very open about the likely level of inaccuracy of their modelled results. Given all that their Politicians of all Parties agreed to lift restrictions based on projections with known likely error levels. Of course the process will have to continue in case a new variant comes along which would require a change of management strategy.

A huge difference between the Danish approach and the UK approach has been that the Danish models incorporated factors related to the way people were actually behaving, the UK models did not. It is natural in an epidemic for people to become cautious and to isolate themselves as much as they can. Of course not every one behaves in the same way and the Danes tracked that too. As a result their models closely tracked the actual measured situation on the ground. The UK models never did.

So, in summary by applying the scientific method rigorously and always comparing modelled and actual population results the Danes managed to refine their models until they were accurate. That’s why performance of Danish modelling of the infections shows remarkable agreement between predictions and actual state of infection in reality. Indeed when even crudely applied to UK data they provides remarkably accurate results, in sharp contrast to the UK Modelling ‘effort’.

The video interview below with the Head of the Danish Modelling Group tells the whole Saga of the Danish approach to modelling and management of the Epidemic in Denmark.

How to Apply the Scientific Method to Modelling an Epidemic

Three final points to note :

  1. This was achieved by continuous tuning of their models based on feedback from measured reality (18 minutes into video)
  2. This is an example in the UK where the UK Government did not follow the science. It prejudiced the results of modelling by mandating that changes in population behaviour should not be modelled. This explains some of the reasons that the modelling results were so inaccurate in reality (26 minutes into video)
    A professional scientific team would have refused to accept such terms, or at least published results taking into account all the factors they considered relevant and essential.
  3. Science works if you use the scientific method.
    If you don’t then it’s not science, its opinion.

I think this is all best summed up by a quote from E.F. Schumacher in his book Small is Beautiful

“The system of nature, of which man is a part, tends to be self-balancing, self-adjusting, self-cleansing. Not so with technology.”

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