... abound in these days of COVID-19 / coronavirus.
This week's Challenge was:
1. During the past 2 weeks, what SearchResearch Challenges have you confronted about COVID-19 / Coronavirus?
2. What did you do to try and answer those Research Questions?
Let me summarize the comments (and emails) from SRS readers.
Arthur is concerned about how to tamp down fake news about false (or downright dangerous) "cures" and "treatments" for COVID.
He asks a great question: How do we assess the accuracy of the various treatments that we read about (e.g. terrible ideas like hair dryers pointed down the throat; Vitamin C; vodka; garlic; oregano; colloidal silver... or even, God forbid, drinking bleach).
How to assess treatments: Here's a link to my short YouTube video about this. The TL;DR version of that is (1) do at least two searches (for the treatment, and another that searches for a contraindication). (2) Search for the treatment and a context search term like "hoax" "credible" or "fraud." (One could write a book on this topic alone. But you should watch the video.)
Arthur points out that there are several excellent Fact Checking sites that have set up special COVID pages. He pointed us to FactCheck.AFP.com It's a high quality European site that debunks many of the rumors and crazy stories you hear.
Another such site worth monitoring is Snopes, especially with the search [ covid OR coronavirus ] -- here's the link to Snopes for you to use to search just in Snopes for fact check articles that they've written.
Other well-known fact-checking sites are running special COVID pages (or searches over their fact checks):
FactCheck.org COVID fact checking
USAToday COVID fact checking
Poynter.org COVID fact checking
Politifact.org COVID fact checking
Of course, you can check with your favorite trusted news source with this pattern:
[ site:X.Y factcheck COVID OR coronavirus ]
In particular, as you read about COVID, beware of stories that don't have clear attributions. If you can't figure out who wrote the original story, read it cautiously.
Clayton points out that the overall data about COVID is terrible, so stop obsessing over it. I hear you!
I agree with him--the data is terrible. The sampling has been abysmal and worst of all, it's heavily biased in ways that we don't know. I can de-bias some data, but if we don't know much about the testing protocols (who gets tested, when, and why) and the accuracy of the tests, then it's hard to draw accurate conclusions. (To be honest, I don't really look at "people tested" or "positive" or "negative." I look just at deaths--that's probably the most accurate number of all, and even it is biased.)
Clayton also points out the best summary of the situation that he's found. Coronavirus: Why you must act now (by Tomas Pueyo) Also read his follow-up article, The Hammer and the Dance which summarizes a lot of implications along with reasonable predictions about what will happen over the next several months.
Ramón has been asking good questions in his research: Will weather slow the virus? What medicines work? Is chloroquine really is helping?
He did a nice query about cholorquine:
[chloroquine Marseille coronavirus]
Why "Marseille" in that query? Because some of the earliest work on the effectiveness of choloroquine was done by Didier Raoult at La Timone hospital in Marseille, France--or at least he rose to prominence with a YouTube video promising a "way out of the crisis" with choloroquine.
But as this kind of early-pandemic study shows, you can't trust the data so far... too small. It's promising, it's possible--and we have to wait for the real data analysis to be done. We don't want a repeat of the thalidomide tragedy, where a drug was released into the population without careful work showing devastating side-effects. (Thalidomide was sold as a sleep-aid, but only after a year did the terrible side-effects of birth defects show up.)
Information is changing rapidly. What we know now might well shift in a few days or weeks. There's a lot of ongoing research these days--you have to keep your information channels up to date!
Remmij points to the Library of Congress "Corona Resource Guide," which is great, although very policy-wonk friendly. Note that the publication date is March 20, 2020. Things are changing rapidly, and this (along with every other COVID site) needs to be updated frequently if it's going to stay accurate and relevant. They did promise to update it (but as of today, it's still more than a week stale).
There are really two big lessons from this post:
1. Stay up to date! News about COVID changes moment by moment. Is Ibuprofen good or bad? The data changes, and might change again. Will chloroquine or redemsivir prove to be the magic drug? It's a bit too early to tell.
2. Use SITE: as a way to drill into websites that you trust. There's SO much news these days that it's difficult to see the forest for the trees. Using SITE: lets you search for the information you seek from a place you trust.
3. Use the time restriction filter to get the latest updates. It's part of the "Tools" option. Like this:
Stay healthy, wash your hands... and... Search on!
Another note... I put out two "One-Minute Morceaux" this week. Each is a short video between 1 and 5 minutes long with a brief SRS strategy or tactic for you.
Let me know how you like them!