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Low probabilities guide major decisions

Clearly, I hit a nerve with my previous letter, the spirit of which was about the nuances of individual situations regarding vaccination. Before addressing the responses more in depth, let me be clear about three things:

1. I love statistics and Mark Twain.

2. I am not advocating against anyone taking the COVID-19 vaccine. Get a third dose if you want.



3. I am not a medical professional, but I am a thinker.

First, where were all the statistic lovers last year? We might not be in this situation if we looked at stats and not cable news fear-mongering death tolls because “showing your work” on those numbers could have revealed a lot of important information.


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The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.



Foundational to all stats regarding COVID-19, what is the mortality rate? Don’t forget to “show your work” and remove those with pre-existing conditions since COVID alone cannot be blamed. One could argue excluding those over 80, as well, since all viruses are devastating to this demographic. The three respondents were adamant that stats should guide decisions. We are seeking truth and making important health/civil liberty decisions, so honest statistics should clearly define the risk of death specifically from COVID. That’s the goal, right? Preventing death. Or have we moved the goal posts again? And lastly, what is the probability of developing an adverse reaction to the various COVID-19 vaccines?

Spoiler alert: Dying from COVID or developing an adverse reaction from the vaccine both are statistically extremely low. And that’s the point: We are making critical, life/society changing decisions based on extremely low probability outcomes.

Underscoring all this, a recent survey by Carnegie Mellon University found that the most highly educated Americans are also the most vaccine hesitant. There goes the uneducated, anti-vaxxer narrative.

“It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.” — Mark Twain

Chase McWhorter

Carbondale


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Kudos to Laurine Lasselle for her well-written, well-researched article interpreting the data from the 2020 census (“2020 census data highlights relationship among resort communities, downvalley locales,” Aspen Journalism).



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