Swine Flu Peak Concern

Alejandro Martinez Gallardo wrote to suggest we look at the widespread concern about a possible flu pandemic.

I live in Mexico and experienced, as the government gave news of the swine flu virus, a collective mind panic as I have never before seen. I know it is hard to pinpoint the event to a specific time, but I am sure that somewhere between April 23 and 26 would yield very interesting data. I think the project does not have eggs in Mexico, but probably the data would reflect some kind of widespread disturbance worthy of analysis.

And later, in response to my indication we need a more sharply focused time:

I would have to say "the collective mind panic" would be identified best on Friday April 24, when the news of the swine flu had spread and people were jumping into conclusions with paranoid ease. That would be during the day like from 11 am to 20 pm Central Time. I might be "stretching" it here but I think it might result in interesting data. Well, if you have time and do run the analysis, I really would like to see it and perhaps write something about it.

The GCP event was defined using Alejandro's suggestions. The resulting Chisquare is 32525.557 on 32400 df, for a probability of 0.310 and corresponding Z of 0.495. This result is moderately positive, and indeed might reflect the widespread and developing anxiety, but given the difficulty of testing for such a diffuse event, it is also reasonable to interpret the result as random fluctuation.

Swine Flu Peak

It is important to keep in mind that we have only a tiny statistical effect, so that it is always hard to distinguish signal from noise. This means that every "success" might be largely driven by chance, and every "null" might include a real signal overwhelmed by noise. In the long run, a real effect can be identified only by patiently accumulating replications of similar analyses.

Go to Main Results Page

GCP Home