Has LessWrong been a good early alarm bell for the pandemic?

The S&P 500 be­gan to crash on Feb. 20th.

On or prior to that date, there were 6 posts on LessWrong re­lated to COVID-19 (thanks to habryka, who found 3 that I’d missed).

Jan 20 - Ra­tion­al­ist prep­per thread

Jan 26 - Con­cern­ing the Re­cent 2019-Novel Coron­avirus Outbreak

Feb 5 - Some quick notes on hand hygiene

Feb 11 - Will nCoV sur­vivors suffer last­ing dis­abil­ity at a high rate?

Feb 14 - Please Help Me­tac­u­lus Fore­cast COVID-19

Feb 20 - Mak­ing sense of coro­n­avirus stats

As a bonus, Scott Alexan­der dropped a link in his Links 220 post say­ing “As of ear­lier this month, China’s coro­n­avirus case num­bers fol­lowed such a neat quadratic curve that they seem kind of like low-effort fakes. Not sure if this also ap­plies to the cur­rent num­bers.”

Near-daily COVID post­ing be­gan on Feb. 20th. After Feb. 27th, the num­ber of LW COVID-19 posts has in­creased by about 4 posts per day to a to­tal of nearly 200:

The New York Times has com­piled a re­cent his­tory of the pan­demic.

Be­fore Feb 20, what had hap­pened?

  • The WHO had de­clared a global health emergency

  • The Trump ad­minis­tra­tion had re­stricted travel from China

  • There had been hun­dreds of deaths, in­clud­ing some out­side China

  • Al­most 50,000 cases were re­ported in Hubei Province

  • Hun­dreds of peo­ple aboard the Di­a­mond Princess cruise ship were in­fected, the ship had been quaran­tined, and the pas­sen­gers had fi­nally been able to disembark

By Feb. 23, the S&P 500 had started to de­scend, and Italy was be­gin­ning to lock its cities down. It wasn’t un­til around Feb. 27th, af­ter Trump re­quested a big bailout from Congress, Iran re­ported over 60 deaths, and cases had spread to Latin Amer­ica, that LessWrong be­gan to see ac­cel­er­ated COVID post­ing. The num­ber spiked from around 1 post per day to the av­er­age of 4-5 posts per day we’ve seen since then.

If the sheer vol­ume of con­ver­sa­tion is our alarm bell, this site seems to have lagged be­hind the stock mar­ket by about a week.