Final Word from Thursday, October 15, 2020

"Garbage in, garbage out," is an old computer term meaning that if the input data is nonsense, the output will also be nonsense, no matter how sophisticated the calculation. The reproductive number championed by Health Min. Roman Prymula to decide the fate of 10.7m residents of the Czech Republic is a classic case of garbage in, garbage out. Biochemist Jan Trnka, who certainly is no covid denier, told Czech Radio that the R value should be used with great care because it is an approximation based on past data that might not be as useful as it seems. Prymula's own ministry says that the R number is only an indicator and should be used very carefully. What is more, Prymula already knows that the R number won't drop anytime soon. He told Czech TV that the goal for now is to keep it from rising. Prymula has found the perfect number. It allows him to do whatever he wants (keep schools closed, lock down stores and services), all with a sound basis in pseudoscience. [ Czech Republic reproduction Television index ]

Glossary of difficult words

to champion - vigorously to support or to defend the cause of;

indicator - something that registers or suggests the state or level of something else;

pseudoscience - a collection of beliefs or practices mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method.

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