We seem to have broken our economy over a total charlatan

I’m sorry, but this is bonkers. This is the chap who published the hysterical paper predicting the coronavirus would lead to 2.2 million deaths in the United States if we did not enact a complete shutdown. The paper that caused state and local governments to demolish their economies overnight. Without any period for questioning his results or technique, because the media and people on Twitter were lighting their hair on fire 24/7.

I read his paper after it was brought to my attention, and as a quant it didn’t seem as sophisticated as people in the media were making it sound at all. (No surprise there. You are talking about people who made it through a decade of reporting on the financial crisis without ever learning what a derivative was. They also think homeschooling an elementary student is hard.) It looked like back-of-the-envelope stuff to me, and everyone seemed to ignore the obvious point that he had profoundly bad inputs (i.e. any data on any topic from the Chinese Communist Party). I’m sure I was not alone in that impression, as he’s trying to play defense now.

Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t want anyone looking under the hood.

“Thousands of lines of undocumented C” that he wrote over 13 years ago? Does he think that makes him sound intelligent or his model sound super-duper complex?

To someone who writes software for a living, that sounds like he has worse controls for eliminating error and less technological sophistication than an entry-level employee at pretty much any corporation in the developed world.

To someone who has ever modeled risk in finance or insurance, that model sounds like a piece of shit destined to not reflect reality, certainly not something we should be making historically catastrophic decisions based off of.

This is the guy that launched our country into an economic depression in a week? You have got to be fucking kidding me.

The fact that we are even in this situation says a lot about academia to me now. I remember laughing at people who managed to get gibberish published in peer-reviewed journals, but it seems a lot less funny now.

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