When quoting statistics it’s useful to do what the mass media is careful to avoid: provide context. It’s no good saying “Sweden has more deaths than Norway” if we don’t know the per capita numbers. By way of example, you could equally argue that “Sweden has far fewer deaths than the USA” if you wanted to support the idea that the Swedish approach makes far more sense. But without per capita numbers, any comparison is totally meaningless. Norway has a population of around 5 million while Sweden has a population of around 10 million. Therefore, all things being equal, Sweden’s death rate for anything at all (auto accidents, suicides, cancer, covid-19) should be twice as high as that of Norway.

As it turns out, Sweden’s per capita rate is indeed higher than that of Norway. But death rate isn’t the whole picture, despite the mass media’s frenzied sensationalism around this single indicator. Sweden is seeing fewer deaths resulting from the postponement of surgery and it’s continuing with vaccinating children. As 117 million children are now exposed to measles due to suspension of vaccination programs thanks to “social distancing” and the collapse of logistics supply chains, we’re seeing children dying now of measles, which is nowhere counted by the mass media but surely should be offset against supposed “lives saved.” And of course the mass media never points out that the elderly, who are most at risk, would have died within the coming weeks anyway because, guess what, the older you are the higher your risk of death within the days ahead. People seem to think that without covid-19 we’d all be living forever. As the study by Oxford University’s Department of Epidemiology clearly showed a couple of weeks back, covid-19 realistically accounts for only around 30% of deaths attributed to it because the remaining 70% of deaths would have occurred anyway due to underlying causes such as cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and sheer old age.

It’s really easy to be whipped into hysterical fear by a constant barrage of context-free sensationalism pumped out 7/24 by mass media utterly dependent on grabbing eyeballs to sustain revenues, but perhaps we ought to attempt to look at the data more carefully and determine whether mass hysteria is better than careful reasoned assessment of the entire situation. It’s difficult to imagine that plunging 500,000,000 of the world’s most vulnerable people into abject poverty and starvation in order to “flatten the curve” in pampered Western nation is a “smart & stable genius” thing to do. It’s difficult to imagine that crippling our children and grand-children with massive debt by shutting down our economies in order to “fight” a virus that in reality kills fewer than 1% of the people it infects is “smart & stable.” It’s no good looking at statistics of people who are seriously affected and then the number of deaths totally free of context, because we can play that game with anything we want. The harsh reality is that even the worst-case projections, inflated by fear and poor statistical techniques, show that we’ve shut down the world for something that will, in the end, even by the worst-possible estimates, harm fewer than 0.5% of the population. Given that obesity-related diseases and smoking-related diseases reliably kill vastly more people every week, this seems (to put it mildly) a very strange thing to do to ourselves. If we cared about saving lives, surely we’d be better off banning junk food and tobacco products? But no, the real reason we’ve indulged in this bout of global self-harm is simply because the mass media whipped us into a frenzy of terror and dull-witted politicians then scrambled to “do something” in order to avoid losing votes at the next election. This is hardly the basis for adequate policy-making.

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.