Harold Hutchison / May 19, 2020

Garbage Models Lead to Garbage Policy

The coronavirus models are only as good as the incredibly faulty data put in.

Computer programmers have a phrase, “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” But this phrase doesn’t just apply to computers — it can also apply to policy. The fact is, policy can only be as good as the information used by those who make it. And, as Dr. Anthony Fauci explained in March, “The model is only as good and as accurate as your assumptions.”

Bad intelligence led American officials with the best of intentions to decide Saddam Hussein’s regime had to go. True, taking out Saddam wasn’t solely predicated on weapons of mass destruction, but the failure to find the WMDs was an issue that dogged George W. Bush throughout his presidency.

We’ve seen a serious case of garbage in, garbage out regarding the Wuhan coronavirus, though, and failing to face this will cause history to repeat itself. The country may have been locked down when no lockdown was needed, and thus, we have suffered colossal economic damage we didn’t need to suffer.

According to a report from Fox News, it turns out that the model predicting 2.2 million deaths in the United States and 500,000 in the United Kingdom was, well, not quite ready for prime time. In fact, one expert went so far as to call it “quite possibly the worst production code I have ever seen.” If that code had been turned in for a commercial project, the coder would be deservedly fired.

As an aside, the professor who created that model was busted sneaking his married mistress into his house, flaunting the United Kingdom lockdown for which he advocated. Sound familiar? Well, it’s about as bad as those A-list celebrities who fly private jets all over the world but lecture us about carbon footprints — but we digress. The real issue is to make sure that we don’t get suckered by a bad model in the future.

Patriots will remember that models have been used to make a lot of doomsday claims about climate change. Those doomsday models, in fact, are used by some in political power to justify the criminalization of dissent over environmental policy — all in the name of stopping climate change. Of course, stopping climate change would likely result in a longer-running version of the lockdown, with all of the harm that such a shutdown would cause.

This is why Congress will need to get to the bottom of how the models that resulted in the lockdowns got things so wrong. The lockdowns were arguably the largest regulatory taking of all time. Americans deserve answers as to how the models were so far off. The fact is, garbage models lead to garbage policy, and America deserves better than that.

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