Tag Archives: counting deaths

Sunday Science Lesson: How are deaths counted (for pandemics, smoking, etc.)?

by Carl V Phillips

There has always been a lot of confusion about what counts as a death from smoking — or from the current pandemic, a war, or most anything else. Events of 2020 has caused a lot more people to realize they are confused about what it means. Typically people just recite numbers they hear without pausing to ask what they could possibly mean. Deaths-from-smoking statistics are recited like a factoid one might hear about particle physics. In both cases a moment’s thought would reveal to most people that they really have no idea what it even means. But unlike with a lot of physics, it is possible for most anyone to understand what the death counts mean and how they are properly estimated. Continue reading