A COVID Math Thought

I am interested that COVID-19 has made people learn about logarithmic graphs. But I suspect that they are not well understood. And sometimes, a linear graph tells you something too. For example, this is a log graph of COVID-19 by country.

The US is at the top of the pack, but it seems like we’re all around the same. That is the thing about log scales – we can cram wildly different magnitudes on a single visual, but it can really hide relative magnitude. Here is the same thing on a linear scale:

Now we can see that the US is far, FAR more infected than any other country. It’s not a function of population – China is way bigger, and the rate of spread is basically the same in any given population. And this is in the context of terrible testing.

Anyway, sometimes log scales are useful, and sometimes linear scales are useful. Above images from 91-DIVOC.