Innumeracy may not be quite as dangerous as the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but it’s not that far away. Today, we’re taking a deep dive into the health risks of the COVID-19 vaccines. Oh, and to the surprise of no one, Elizabeth Warren is an epic hypocrite on eliminating the filibuster.
Yesterday, in the context of terrorists attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, we talked about the conflation of what is rare and what is impossible.
Strong adverse reactions to the coronavirus vaccines are rare, but they are not impossible. If you’ve gotten a vaccination already, your vaccination-event organizers probably had emergency medical personnel standing by, or the shot was administered at a medical center. If you haven’t, when you get the shot, they’ll ask you if you’ve ever had a strong adverse reaction to a shot before, and after getting jabbed, they’ll have you hang around for ten to 15 minutes to make sure you don’t faint or have some other sign of a strong reaction.
The conclusion you take from a set of data will often depend upon how those data were presented to you. A series of not necessarily representative anecdotes, listed one after another, will create the impression that something happens frequently. To use an example far from the world of vaccines, this twelve-minute video would probably leave you with the impression that Sam Darnold is a phenomenally talented quarterback who had a great 2020 season, and that the Jets would be insane to trade him to another team. (If you happen to be the general manager of another NFL team, please study that video thoroughly and call up Jets general manager Joe Douglas with an offer. And whatever you do, don’t watch the rest of Darnold’s plays from last year.)