“Why the Models Have Failed Us in the Pandemic” by Eric Winsberg (University of South Florida)

Since the beginning of the pandemic, models have played a larger role in guiding human affairs than perhaps ever in history. Simple models have been used to predict the “herd immunity threshold” for COVID-19. More complex models have been used to predict the natural course of the disease and project the impact of various candidate interventions. Causal modeling has been used to infer the (counterfactual) effects of past interventions. Some of the decisions that have been guided by these models have been disastrous. The brazen character of some of the inferences that have been drawn and widely publicized will likely diminish the future credibility of science in an increasingly politically fractured world. Why has this happened? How can we do better in the future?