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My Boxing Day Surprise
The release of the Covid Twitter Files was crazier than I imagined
The Covid Twitter Files
I woke up the day after Christmas (aka Boxing Day in some countries) to find that the Covid Twitter files were being posted by David Zweig. The second I was tagged, I started getting messages from Twitter friends.
It wasn’t great timing for me because my brother and his family were headed over to our house for the afternoon to celebrate Christmas with us. So I quickly retweeted the initial tweet in the thread, the tweets I was mentioned in (25, 27, and 36), and tweet 34, which fascinated me. Then I tweeted that I had plans for the day as I tried to stay off Twitter for the day while my family was visiting. However, that quickly proved difficult. My phone was blowing up with notifications, DMs, and even people I know in real life and not through Twitter were messaging me and my husband. It was wild!
For an article version of the full Covid Twitter Files by, see below:
I published a separate Substack more about the portion of the actual Twitter files that relates to my tweet and the response to my appeal, but that ended up not even being the focus of my day.
Congressman Ted Lieu and… Elon Musk?
I was trying to ignore my notifications, but in the afternoon, one of my Twitter friends DMd me a link to a (now-deleted) tweet by Congressman Ted Lieu in response to the Covid Twitter Files thread, saying Martin Kulldorff’s labeled tweet actually WAS misleading. In his tweet, Ted said Covid was a leading cause of death in children, and he linked to an outdated version of a pre-print that I had previously debunked. The pre-print had since been revised to correct issues that I identified, as recently confirmed by the study author himself.
I could hardly believe my eyes! Shortly after, Ted Lieu deleted his tweet. But I later discovered he tweeted almost the same thing again, linking to a different source - this time, a Bloomberg article. I didn’t click the link or see the title of the Bloomberg piece, because I was still trying not to pay much attention to Twitter for the day.
Later in the evening, I decided to see what he linked to, and was floored to see that it was a Bloomberg article entitled Covid Is Way More Lethal to Kids Than The Flu (SERIOUSLY?!?). The claims in this article were so problematic that I had previously tried to get it corrected or retracted by tweeting Bloomberg and emailing the reporter. It’s based on a flawed analysis by Jeremy Faust that I had also fact-checked. After the Bloomberg article came out, Faust updated his analysis slightly based on an undeniable error that I pointed out, but he ignored all my other critique, and doubled down on his questionable assertion that Covid is significantly worse than flu.
I replied again to Ted on Twitter pointing out the flawed analysis and tagging Jeremy Faust. Faust actually replied to me saying - get this - that he unintentionally “juxtaposed two graphs that weren’t optimal to juxtapose.” WEREN’T OPTIMAL?!? He was comparing flu deaths where flu was the underlying cause of death to Covid deaths where Covid was anywhere on the death certificate (underlying or a contributing cause). Saying that’s “not optimal” is putting it mildly. It’s comparing apples to oranges as far as cause of death is concerned, while also ignoring that we test significantly more for Covid than we ever tested for flu, so the ascertainment rates are very different. We also have different definitions for flu deaths versus Covid deaths that skews Covid deaths higher.
I pointed out to him that it was dishonest not to consider the difference in testing rates between flu and Covid, then he refused to engage with me further because it was mean to call his assessments “dishonest.” Either he’s got very thin skin, or he bailed so he wouldn’t have to acknowledge that he conveniently left out the significant differences in testing during Covid versus historical flu seasons from his analysis.
Basically, thanks to Ted Lieu, the whole day ended up feeling like a culmination of much of the work I’ve done over the past 2½ years to counter fear-mongering on Twitter about kids and Covid with data and facts. Sometimes it feels like we’ve made so much progress, but then tweets like Ted Lieu’s remind me that there’s still a long way to go to convince Americans that much of the establishment narrative about the threat to kids from Covid is wrong. And that’s why I want to keep contributing to the fight against fear-based Covid propaganda.
Why Launch a Substack?
I’ve been analyzing Covid data and holding people accountable for sharing bad Covid data since May 2020. I started tracking the data in Excel in April, and by mid-May, I launched a web site, covid-georgia.com, sharing frequent graphs of Georgia Covid data from Excel and explaining some of the confusion around the Georgia Covid data. Within a month, I upgraded to using Tableau Public to embed interactive maps and graphs on my web site.
I never monetized the site, because it wasn’t intended to be a money-making venture, and I didn’t want to have random ads on my site. But the truth is, I’ve spent a ton of my own personal time analyzing and sharing data, fact checking news articles, critiquing scientific studies, and reading and sharing helpful information about Covid. My area of interest has always been Covid and kids, because even when I was nervous about the virus at first, the one thing that reassured me was the early data that kids were at extremely low risk, so I never once worried about my daughter. And I knew that for most kids, getting back to the classroom was essential, so they weren’t sitting at home on Zoom. The first thing I ever shared on social media about Covid and kids was actually an article by David Zweig for WIRED in May 2020 - The Case for Reopening Schools.
I own a small business providing corporate headshot photography and technology consulting services, and at times, that work took a back burner to the work I was doing on Covid. I’ve also considered going back to the corporate world, at least part-time, but that means being less active on Twitter. But I enjoy digging in and exposing the faulty claims in the media and by supposed experts about Covid, and I would prefer to do that in a more in-depth format than Twitter provides anyway. I’ve posted a few fact checks on my web site, but I think the nature of what I’ve been doing - timely responses to trending news, studies, and tweets (about Covid mainly) - are better suited for a Substack. I’ve been working on this for a while, and was planning to launch in January, but with all that is going on, I figured I’d pull the trigger a bit ahead of schedule.
What To Expect
Through Twitter, I’ve gotten to know followers who regularly engage with me either through tweets or DM chats. Some of these folks have become good friends. This past summer, I even hosted a get-together of Covid Twitter friends at my house with @politicalmath (who writes). We had a great time meeting people and chatting in person after mostly communicating via tweets and DMs. I'd love to do something like that again actually.
I would like to create that kind of group here on Substack where I can share my thoughts in longer pieces instead of Tweet threads and interact more in depth with subscribers. I’m planning to post most of my content for anyone to view, but I will have some premium content for paid subscribers, and paid subscribers will be able to reply in the comments. I won’t post on specific days - it will be whenever particularly egregious tweets or articles or studies come to my attention that need to be addressed. (If you’ve been following me on Twitter for a while, you know this seems to happen quite often!)
All this to say, I hope you’ll subscribe to help support the work I’ve been doing and allow me to keep doing it. Thank you!
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