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Sensational!

Posted in Blog, and Thoughts

I don’t do “news”, so it can often appear that I either live under a rock or that I’m emotionally detached — because I’m not in a panic over whatever today’s panic is scheduled to be.

Outside of just eschewing ‘news’, I’m also fairly resistant to sensationalism, because I tend to skip headlines and seek out the underlying reason for the article.

Here’s a current example:

Sounds bad, right? Outbreaks everywhere! And won’t someone please think of the children!

But, let’s get beyond the headline here… My first instinct with anything that quotes numbers is to see what story the numbers really tell. So, to the Internet!

With a quick internet search I find that there are 4,126 public schools in Michigan, so 62 is just about 1.5% of all the schools referenced in this headline. Also in this internet search I discover that, as of last year, there were roughly 1,745,300 public school students in Michigan, so 247 is 0.01% of the student body.

Now if we average 247 cases across 62 schools we end up with about 4 students per school.

I know I’m old, but “4” doesn’t strike me as an “Outbreak”. I mean, pre-covid, would four students coming down with the flu even be known by the students in the school? Would it make the school paper let alone regional news?

Probably not, but hey — fear sells clicks.