By Nick Stamatakis

There was good reason behind our recent post where in 2015 Prof. Ioannidis in a TEDx talk in Greece, argues about “Mediocracy or Meritocracy”... His talk aimed to expose the well-known preferential, mafia-like system that permeates politics and academia in Greece.  He might as well have adopted his speech now to describe analogous phenomena in today’s America…  Annoyed by his “inconvenient truths”, several writers (who, coincidentally, do not have half his qualifications and academic credentials on statistics and epidemiology) started attacking his motives and his…methods.  Even more disgusting was his treatment by Greek-American and Greek media, as well by the whole establishment in Greece – I will discuss this issue in the end…

First, let me explain that among the many “analysts” who express opinions on this issue, this writer is probably among the few that have enough background and experience in social science/statistical methodology to qualify for even approaching an analysis of this topic. The majority of opinions published about COVID-19 “tests” and “research” are half-baked, uneducated, politicized rubbish.  Of the very few valid criticisms of Dr. Ioannidis a WSJ article titled “The Bearer of Good Coronavirus News” and an Undark.org piece titled “On Covid-19, a Respected Science Watchdog Raises Eyebrows“, deserve at least some attention…

Last time I used my knowledge in statistical analysis was before the 2016 presidential election when I proposed that polls were completely wrong, biased, tilted… Mostly because their “samples” of people questioned were not representative or random at all...  Without a “representative and random sample” you cannot go very far in statistical research.  And when I did express my well documented opinion that “the polls on Trump’s election probability are skewed”, I was quickly silenced by the “leftist” publisher of a major Greek American website… By the way, Prof. Ioannidis, (in one of his many recent TV interviews) explained that collecting a test sample on COVID 19 has similar pitfalls as in regular political polls…

And so his critics go ahead to attack his methods (specifically regarding his recent research in Santa Clara county which made national headlines) by mostly focusing on his samples… But these uninformed so-called “analysts”, fail to understand the basics. First, there is no such a thing as a 100% absolute “random sample”.  The notion that there is a way to have an absolute “random sample” is mostly an indication of ignorance.  But there are ways to approximate.

Example from recent news: How many people (in our case, how many antibody tests) would be enough for a representative sample in NY State with its 22 million residents? A simple mathematical calculation puts this number at about 4,700…  How many antibody tests were done in Santa Clara county (population 1.9 million) where Ioannidis and his team from Stanford did their “criticized” study?  It was in the first paragraph of most news: About 3,300 antibody tests… If my math is correct, Prof. Ioannidis used a size of a sample seven times larger than necessary (i.e. about 450 tests)…  Why did he do that?  Clearly, he wanted to boost his sample in order to protect against “skewed results”…  But was his sample “random”?  The answer is a big YES… It was as random as they come, because he chose Facebook as a way to select his “subjects” – and FB is a very wide social platform… An “expert” may say that there are “better ways” to choose subjects of a sample… Maybe there are better ways, but not when time is of the essence…

In comparison, some “critics” say that Ioannidis’ study gives results very different from the “famous” first study Gov. Cuomo presented from NY State 10-12 days ago… How many antibody tests the first  NY study had?  About 3,300!…  In other words, Cuomo and his scientists used the same number of tests to analyze their 22 million population as Ioannidis used in Santa Clara with its 2 million people!!!  The NY study did not have a “representative sample” by the established mathematical definition… Which study of these two would any 10th grader believe and deem as more valuable? It’s a rhetorical question, but yes my friends, this country has reached this lowest level of math inability or the highest in political hatred – you pick…. (To be fair, just yesterday a new NY study had a sample of 15,000 people – we were unable to see the complete results yet.. Even so, the Stanford sample from Santa Clara is much bigger comparatively…)

I could go into further details about the “critics” and their “politically correct” attacks but I will stop here… I will just note that the results of the Ioannidis/Stanford study in Santa Clara are matching similar results in the Princess cruise liner in Japan, in the city of Vo in Italy, in Iceland and elsewhere where the randomness of the sample was beyond question… Please dear analysts, please refresh your basic math and remove your political blindfolds if you are going to discuss topics like this…

As for the Greek American media, what can we say?  We are dealing with the same leftist actors that got rid of my annoying analyses about Donald Trump and his election probability four years ago… The same US “correspondents” of Greek media who in the past two months failed to mention Ioannidis’ name NOT EVEN ONCE in relation to COVID 19… How can you be a senior Greek correspondent in the US and fail to mention a fellow Greek who is at the center of the debate about the virus? Unbelievable!… And we are also dealing with TNH, who is in bed with both the “deep state” through Karloutsos and with the Mitsotakis government… These people, in addition to being uneducated and uninformed, have no interest to present facts that may hurt their powerful friends…

As for Greece, Ioannidis said it best in his powerful talk on meritocracy: In a country where there is only one candidacy for any academic position/opening, there is no chance for the best to be promoted… In any serious country which happened to have one of its children get to the top of the world in this scientific field, this scientist would be on a daily consultation with the government regarding the pandemic.  Not in Greece…  Where the various “mafia-like families” run every aspect of politics, public administration, academia and business… And one of these “mafia-like families”, the Mitsotakis family, happens to be in power.  Prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis promised before his election to promote meritocracy… He broke his promise in the case of A.Diamataris, the disgraced TNH publisher whom he forced to resign “in flight” to Australia… This is the second time he misses the mark… By the third time he will have no credibility left…

Let’s at least hope that the US government will take advantage of Prof. Ioannidis’ knowledge and skills in the near future…

May 3, 2020, n.stamatakis@aol.com   www.helleniscope.com

 

 

 

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