Here’s a letter to a reader of this blog:
Thanks for your e-mail.
You’re unhappy with my linking to a December 10th Facebook post by Nobel-laureate economist Vernon Smith – a post in which Vernon shares a graph, from Our World in Data, comparing the number of Covid-19 cases to the number of Covid-19 deaths. Observing that the former is magnitudes larger than the latter, Vernon comments in his post: “Cases, lots, deaths not.”
About Vernon’s post, you object : “The gigantic scale gives a false impression of the number of covid deaths…. It makes them appear smaller than what they really are.”
I disagree with your objection. In light of the fact that the media incessantly report rising Covid cases with an urgency that suggests that these are imminent deaths, the very point of Vernon’s post, I’m sure, is to put Covid deaths in proper perspective relative to Covid cases. Doing so thus requires that deaths and cases be shown on the same scale – a scale that must be large because the number of Covid cases is large.
The fact that the number of Covid deaths is minuscule relative to the number of Covid cases is the relevant reality to which Vernon points and which the graph he shares illustrates vividly. And it’s an important reality. If knowledge of this reality were more widespread, I believe that the irrational hysteria over Covid-19 would be much muted.
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030
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