Wednesday, March 25, 2020

SearchResearch Challenge (3/25/20): What research questions are YOU searching out these days? (The COVID-19 edition of SRS)

We live in an information rich world... 

... but with the rise of COVID-19 / Coronavirus, we've been living in an information universe that is overwhelmed by a tsunami of content--some of it good, some it misleading, some of it questionable, and some of it outright wrong and dangerous.  

P/C CDC.gov

I can't ignore this outsize opportunity to help people with their medical searches.  So... 

Rather than pose yet-another-Challenge for you, I'd like for you to share what YOUR personal COVID-related research Challenges are.  We'll talk about them, and discuss in the comments.  From this discussion thread, I'll summarize some of the SRS issues that arise, and what strategies and tactics we should be adopting as a way to cut through the noise and get to the useful and correct information.  

So, let me pose this week's Challenge to you like this: 

1.  During the past 2 weeks, what SearchResearch Challenges have you confronted about COVID-19 / Coronavirus?  

2.  What did you do to try and answer those Research Questions?  

Naturally, I'm curious about what you're asking, and how you're answering those questions.  

Frankly, I find myself being a bit obsessive about COVID data from multiple sources.  I have one display that shows nothing but data feeds from different monitoring agencies (e.g. the CDC, Wikipedia data visualization, Johns Hopkins University, Google's data, etc.).  I'm trying to triangulate my sources to see what's going on.

One of my RQs is "what's the most accurate data source?"  This is a huge problem, especially when there's so much variance between the data sources, and when there's so much political investment at stake.  

So... What are your questions?  And, what are you doing to answer your questions?  

Let's chat.  See you in the discussion thread.  (Since I'm now working-from-home, I'll be responding more often than usual.) 

Note:  Google does have a pretty good COVID-19 website up and running.  Check there.  

Another note...  I'm also ramping up production of a few short videos to become better searchers.  You'll start seeing these coming out tomorrow, with roughly one or two a week for the duration.  This is a restart of the 1MM series ("One-Minute Morceaux" like this one on Word Order Matters) that I ran a while back.  Each is a short video between 1 and 4 minutes long with a brief SRS strategy or tactic for you.  Let me know how you like them!  

Search on!  


  1. What is concerning is the volume of fake news about the virus - of all sorts.

    An example: - and this is one example of many with the same text. This one states it is health information from a leading London Hospital (without naming). I've seen others from "St George's Hospital", "St George's Hospital, Switzerland", "Royal Brisbane Hospital", "Doctors on the Frontline" and others. The same basic text - but different hospitals and many other clues this is fake.

    I've posted whenever I saw this shared (mostly on Social Media) on how to detect fake news and also shared sites like that exposes the hoax. I explained that the posts don't give links to the source and the multiple different locations claimed. (And that as far as I can see, there's no St George's Hospital, Switzerland). (The is dedicated to exposing myths - and as it's from the AFP news agency I think it's trustworthy).

    The advice can even get worse. There's a YouTube video where an "outreach" preacher told that the virus dies in heat and recommended using a hair dryer down your mouth to kill the virus, and then drink lots of water to hydrate yourself afterwards! SO fake information is dangerous.

    Another piece of fake information is where people do not know the difference between self-isolation and quarantine and what you can and cannot do plus what social distancing actually means. Less dangerous but fuels the panic and risk.

    Then there are people who cannot read data. There was somebody who tried to repudiate the figures for the virus in the USA on the 22 March when they were above 30k. This person pointed out that the CDC said it was 15k and that she'd not seen any cases in her State and that her husband was a HCP and should know. So she viewed it as blown up and not a problem - essentially agreeing with President Trump. I had to point out that the CDC did not update the figures over the weekend, and that the 15k figure was for the 20th March and was two days out of date. However to do that, you have to read the small print relating to the figures and their meaning. Plus that things are regional and she lives in a rural, low-population State and not NY.

    Another example of misreading figures is a question on how WHO reports Covid-19 figures - why does the Eastern Mediterranean exclude Israel yet include Afghanistan, Morocco, etc. This was claimed as an example of WHO being anti-Israel. It was pointed out that it also excluded Turkey and Cyprus so was not anti-Israel as was claimed. In fact the figures are for WHO's regional offices and Turkey, Cyprus & Israel are reported by WHO's European offices and not the Eastern Mediterranean office. It's administrative and nothing more.

    So there's a mix of bias, fake news, and inability to read data - all lead to confusion and mixed messages, especially when spread. (And of course lots of funny memes that lighten the load!)

    1. Thanks, Arthur. That site you cite (AFP) is by Agence France-Presse, an international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Agence Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency and has a good reputation for reliable reporting.

  2. I've mainly been following links from NY Times and Washington Post. I haven't been obsessing about data because it's clear that the data are of very low quality, because of different testing and reporting regimes. The most consequential link for me came in an email from a colleague on March 11 ; I still haven't seen anything better in combining facts and logical analysis: uses data to demonstrate how reported cases lag infection, explained how health care saturates, and overall argued the necessity of drastic action immediately to slow transmission. On March 11 I was attending a conference in LA; had I read that post earlier I would not have been there, and I would have urged the organizers to cancel [the great majority of potential attendees, better informed than I, did not attend.] I do use Google when looking for specific data or procedures (how long virus persists on various surfaces, how to clean a car).

  3. I have been trying to read information from all the world. And also verifying what I read. It's hard because official not necessarily is the real data. Also SRS "news" that in most cases are lies.

    The questions I have and searched are:
    Weather will slow down the virus?
    How medicines are helping people? Are any of those really working? I read about 4 mentioned apparently by WHO. also read in some countries some "work" and in others don't.

    I have found, other than the already mentioned, some good sources. For example, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, some accounts on Twitter (later I can share some with data and science as proof) and others.

    Interestingly, it looks like new syntoms are shown in people and those affect time to get worst.

    Other question I asked was does chloroquine really is helping? Works with a combo? What are the dangerous parts? Why people runs to buy if it's not a sure thing and it's sure it can damage if taken incorrectly?

    Questions I have now to research are: What is people receiving in hospitals to get help. I mean, they are taking medicine, but all the world is giving the same? Why some places like Tlaxcala are with 0 cases until now while the rest of the country (Mexico) have plenty?

    To answer chloroquine, searched [chloroquine Marseille coronavirus] and found lots of data. Later Dr. Oz interviewed a doctor that is working with that medicine.

    I'm also wondering how people is reacting in psychological way. And how that affects.

    Also searching and watching videos (by doctors who shows data and are plausible) about how to be as safe as possible.

    Sad thing is that still many believe nothing is happening in the world and all of us will suffer in one way or another. That is why we need to verify and SRS to be as prepared as possible with the new virus

    1. Today, I'm searching [Coronavirus Artificial intelligence] very interesting results. I think "we" the world now has to look with more detail to a medicine that helps and later a vaccine. And I think AI can help to speed the tests.

      I also wondering, what other questions do you have, Dr. Russell or which ones you receive more these days?

    2. After watching Dr. Russell's first New "One-Minute Morceaux" Looking for good information about medical treatments? Dr. Russell will post the link and more information on a post about it.

      Tried [coronavirus vitamin c efficacy]

      Vitamin C
      Interesting was that some readers mentioned:
      Expert consensus on comprehensive treatment of coronavirus disease in Shanghai 2019 and other trials by CDC. They also mentioned Linus Pauling Institute. As Dr. Russell mentions, we need to read, verify and be cautious. In any case, I'm starting to read the links to at least know what are people saying

      [Linus Pauling Institute] the Institute site links to:


    3. People will be in the streets soon like we did before covid?

      I'm thinking and searching one big question. Millions are now talking about "flattening the curve." As I understand it, flattening only means less people getting sick as fast as it's happening now and with that hospitals can treat them and not having to decide who gets treatment and who doesn't.

      Then, I just read this by @Laurelcoons on Twitter: "Hong Kong and Singapore are growing after relaxing social distancing." And I was thinking that days before. When curve gets flattened, people will return and then again curve will be exponential, right? That is, normal life as we know it won't be again until we have a vaccine or medicine.

      I am trying to search for that answer. Some say it will take years, others that social distance and quarantine will not work because if it last more no one will resist economically. Many us are now suffering already. So if we go again to streets, what will happen?

      Hopefully Science can find soon the medicine that heals

    4. Thanks, Dr. Russell for the new 1MM. It helped me with some doubts and also to learn new tools.

      1MM #12: Ways to assess credibility of a site

      nano materials against viruses? In Spanish

  4. Replies
    1. The LOC link is a good reminder--there ARE humans available for consultation. Thanks, Remmij. (And the image of the modern "Boccacio" is a hoot!)

  5. My specific research is kind of backwards. I have an old (age) friend who likes to email everybody he knows. What he really likes about doing this is opportunity to spread BS. I have warned him, I have showed him how turn on his BS detector. Don't send anything out for a while. He lasted a year or so. But last week went back to old idiotic ways. I hit Reply All pointing out it was debunked nonsense. Now he has gone quiet again.

    Every day Noonish our Provincial Medical Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry gives a calm reasoned summation of how we in BC are doing. She is followed by our Minister of Health. I trust them both.

    Stay Well Apart Cheers j

    1. "Stay Well Apart Cheers j"
      not really a neighborly thing…
      is that what B.C. was doing when they shipped this south?
      Dr. B., she is getting some ink…
      apologies… one of the symptoms of C-19, over sensitivity to smugness… and lack of inhibition to being snarky…

    2. Thanks for doing your part to keep the flood of BS down. I'm glad to have a partner in this!

      It's good to know there is a government that's reliable, trustworthy, and calming. (Our Fearless Leader is none of those.)

      Oddly, I was *supposed* to be in Vancouver this week, before COVID and the border closure...

  6. I like this video from Dr. Mandell. I think he says good reliable advice Stay home, wash your hands, don't touch your face and try to avoid panic I'm trying, when need to go out, to walk with hands in my back. Also, not mentioned on the video but it's obvious, clean the sanitizer dispenser (much times we forget this)

    Be safe everyone �� Hope you find the video helpful

  7. Our local distillery just started making sand hanitiser. $10 for a 26er...takes me back to my teen years. And it has just the slightest whisper of a hint of rye. Not drinkable though. 75% ethanol and the rest is peroxide and glycerol.


    1. Hi Jon! Here Corona the beer brand is also creating "hanitiser" and that gel is donated to medical services. Hopefully this helps to slow the spread. Also interesting is seeing what buying changes have been made in the world. In Mexico people bought : Tuna, Sardines and frozen bread. And yes, lots of cleaning and disinfectant products.

      Also, watching La Liga Cities TV Show. Saw Seville and remembered Dr. Russell's visit to that place a few months ago. The new thing for me was that there is a replica of the Giralda in The United States. As Dr. Russell have said, different languages, in Wikipedia's article, gives us different information that makes it more complete.