Q #125: Lies, damned lies, & statistics; or, Coronavirus versus other modern contagions.

I talked to my mom this morning after debating with myself for 20 minutes on whether or not I should (not a promising sign). I was worried she was gonna be one of those hoaxers or conspiracy theorists about the whole virus deal.

Well, only took three minutes to get into it, and thankfully only two to get out of it again. Bullet dodged. She thinks it’s a load of crap and that there’s no reason to shut down the whole damned world, that my mom and stepdad are just doing what they do normally anyway (which isn’t terribly social on a daily basis, so I’m not that worried).

I don’t know where she got it from (maybe FUX news, maybe neighbors, as she lives in Kansas in teabagger-central, USA), but she said that under Obama’s administration, thousands and thousands died of all these viruses and nobody ever heard a thing about it. But now we’re shutting everything down everywhere this time.

I think I heard the statistic of 55,000 in relation to the flu again, too.

I’ve heard or read that number probably a dozen times in the past few weeks.

But no context.

I think she said it, and I’ve certainly read comments (that I can’t find anymore because I’ve read hundreds of articles the past two weeks) stating that 55,000 died of the flu and people weren’t shutting down everything in sight and forcing us to stay indoors.

That number is bothering the hell out of me, because I can’t recall any context with it. Was it 55,000 flu cases and deaths around the world in 2019? In the U.S. in 2019? Since the 1918 pandemic in the U.S. alone?

Seriously, where’s this number coming from? I can’t seem to word my question well enough to get any real answers online, and I’m wondering where it came from and what it’s really about, because like the great Mark Twain observed, numbers can be twisted to suit anything, especially by those with a agenda or those who don’t know enough about the subject to gauge the proper context.


I am always hesitant to accept statistics until I’ve had a chance to really read what’s being talked about. I love charts, though, for their simplicity, but even then, I make sure the wording is clear and I really get what it’s telling me.

Okay, I did a bit of digging, and the first thing that popped up was statistics from the CDC for the flu from October 2019 to mid March 2020. And I saw that 55,000 number… but this is incredibly misleading. In addition to a list of other flu categories that the CDC apparently monitors, the number of deaths they actually list from the flu is 23,000 – 59,000.

That’s a helluva guesstimate right there, don’t you think? And just below the infographic are subheadings about the results and limitations of the results.


So, this 55,000 number is really annoying me.

And how does this flu-statistic relate to the Coronavirus now?

I’m not sure, which is why I’m asking the question. Is it an attempt to downplay the seriousness of Coronavirus? Ignorance? Fear? False analogizing?

I am trying to play catch up as much as I can about all this Coronavirus stuff without making myself crazy or a paranoid mess. I guess I really don’t understand quite yet what makes the virus so bad. It seems people are testing positive all over the place, but how do they know they have the symptoms?

And more than that, if this crazy virus just popped up a few months ago and is charging around the globe, unstoppable, how is it they can have positive or negative test results on something they can’t even fight? Or can they fight it, or just treat the symptoms and hope for the best?

I’m still researching. I had to take a break because headaches and anemia were really messing with me. But in between cleaning and coffee breaks (no work for almost a week, so I might as well get cracking), I’m gonna educate myself some more.

Seriously, though, is there anything to what my mom said, about many viruses going on during Obama’s time? I remember swine flu, the avian flu outbreak, things like that, but they barely touched us in the states from what I recall.

And what’s with these flu statistics and why bring them up when talking about the Coronavirus? I mean, the virulency and/or death rate must be the big factor in all this.

Sorry so scatterbrained, but my head’s hurting (change of seasons and dogs barking at the thunderstorm), and I just can’t get this repeated number out of my head.

Any recommendations for research (easy to pour through, preferably), or why that 55,000 number is touted for the flu, they’ll be greatly appreciated. I’m so tired of seeing it but not getting it.


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