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).
As a bonus, Scott Alexander dropped a link in his Links 2⁄20 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.