Sharing Good Data

We have a lot to learn

You’re Going The Wrong Way!

While an infamous Donald Rumsfeld quote says a lot about the state of affairs of knowledge in our exciting world of Frictionless Sharing, this clip from the 1987 movie, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles sums up our situation nicely:

The world has been experiencing the challenges of the SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 global pandemic for more than 18 months now, and any glance at any headline over the last several weeks, since mid-May 2021 when a national mitigation measure relaxation essentially signaled to the world that America was ready to “go back to normal,” will show that the math and science of mitigation coupled with effective and pervasive vaccination do show up in the data.

Why is a sizable portion of the US Population ignoring this insight? That is a great question, but while you ask it and find a lot of people to answer it, you can find articles and podcasts and youtube streams all day along this line:

What Are We Going To Do With The Anti-Vaxxers? (

Perhaps the most alarming thing, and thus the topic for this episode of the FFS Talk podcast, is the fact that good, useful, arguably correct information is available anywhere and everywhere, but at the same time equally bad, useless, and incorrect information is also available, perhaps even more easily. This is a problem, as we know here in Las Vegas, Clark County, Nevada, from where this podcast originates.

Clark County labeled ‘sustained hotspot’ by White House COVID-19 Team, Nevada reaches 10% test positivity (Channel 8 news website, 13 July 2021)

Now, one week later, the numbers appear to be getting worse, beyond Las Vegas (where things do not stay, despite the retired marketing slogan). Tourist infection and transmission data may be difficult to find for public consumption and analysis, time will tell.

Are we experiencing the infamous (and overturned) “shouting Fire! in a crowded theater” scenario in real time at scale? Can the casual observer discover or locate credible information, determine it is credible, and integrate it into a general understanding on which to base decisions? The numbers might suggest, sometimes.

A one-stop shop for credible information from subject matter experts can be found at (most notably of late, their TWiV or This Week in Virology series). Aimed at experts and researchers, much of the conversation can be consumed in a useful way by the layperson. In particular, the weekly clinical update is most definitely consumable by a broad audience. It’s where we get our weekly dose of good info in these pandemic times…

Puzzles vs Mysteries

Here is a BoingBoing article which quotes and refers by link to a now-removed Malcolm Gladwell article in The New Yorker (which would later appear in his book, Talking To Strangers) about puzzles versus mysteries.

Gladwell on mysteries vs. puzzles


Puzzles move toward solution with more information.

Mysteries may move away from solution with more information. These are a matter of analysis and comprehension, and neither is necessarily helping the cause at any given time.


Daniel Schmactenberger (note the ‘er’ at the end, which may have been lacking in the verbalization of Daniel’s surname in the epsiode) is prolific, with many long-form presentaitons and no shortage of words. Start here and keep an eye and ear out for his conversations:

The actual discussion mentioned in this episode of the FFS Talk podcast is somewhere, to be found eventually, but the take-home is, complexity grows and personal bandwidth rarely does; individuals generally do not have the resources to keep track of the noise in the data, and so may well be distracted by convincing interpretations…

This Episode

Sharing Good Data via

Host: Dan Hugo

Recorded 19 July 2021, Published 20 July 2021

FFS Talk podcast via

Episode Art

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

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