XKCD explains it all

Tagged: COVID / MathInTheNews / PharmaAndBiotech / Statistics / TheDivineMadness

Randall Munroe, the mad cartoonist behind XKCD, explains COVID-19 vaccine approvals. And channels Lord Rutherford. Simultaneously.

Data and its best summary ever

The Kaplan-Meier curves for COVID-19 infections in the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna trials are, of course, beautiful:

Pfizer vaccine KM curves Moderna vaccine KM curves

XKCD Explains It All XKCD #2400 has a quick summary of the situation, as always in the simplest and clearest possible terms. That’s more or less what XKCD is for, right? Absurdly clear explanations of phenomena absurdly trivial and absurdly important. Sometimes simultaneously.

Didn’t somebody already say that?

He seems to be channeling Lord Rutherford, according to this blog’s quotes page:

Lord Rutherford

If your result needs a statistician, then you should design a better experiment. — Ernest Rutherford, 1st Baron Rutherford of Nelson, and Nobel Laureate

While frustrating to a statistician, he’s right: you should of course choose the experiment design that gives such a clear answer you don’t need statistics.

Statisticians are for the situations where that’s not even possible. Which is most of the time.

Written Fri 2020-Dec-18

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