“I only believe those statistics that I falsified myself,” Winston Churchill once said. In times of the Corona crisis, this quotation is of unprecedented topicality.
We all are now getting fed with an uncountable ammount of numbers. What do these numbers really tell? People are so easy to seduce when they cannot assign numbers. It’s always a question of how to compare a number.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is a master of this game. He assures the people of his country that Austria is getting through the crisis “better” than “others”.
Well, let’s look at the numbers (all graphs are taken from ourworldindata.org/coronavirus):
This graphic shows the development of the dead so far due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At first glance, it is confusing and also not very meaningful because it only counts the absolute number of dead, regardless of the size of the country.
So here is the same graph based on population size:
So is Austria really coming through the crisis “better” than other countries? It depends on what you compare yourself to. Do we really want to compare Austria with China, the United States or Iran? What could we learn from such a comparison? Probably very little.
Austria has 8 neighboring countries. So let’s compare ourselves to similar countries. Here is the comparison with our western neighbor, Switzerland:
Yes, Mister Kurz, you are right. We Austrians are really “better”! You have spoken the truth!
And here is THE SAME COMPARISON with our eastern neighbor, Slovakia:
Hey, Mister Kurz, are we really “better”? Why did you lie to us?
What do we learn from this? Are we really “better”, as our Chancellor thinks? Then why would we be “better” at all?
Here is the perhaps decisive comparison (especially for all those representatives of the “opening discussion orgies”, as the German Chancellor Angela Merkel calls them). The comparison of Austria with Sweden, the country of the “liberal” way without restrictions:
The restrictions in Austria started on March 16th… 🤔
And here are the four countries shown in the overall graph again (it’s a logarithmic scale, by the way, because otherwise the differences would be too big):
What do we learn out of this? Think about yourselves…
Stay careful, friends! And stay healthy!