# Excess Deaths “Attributed To Heat And Cold”

The National Association of Scholars is hosting a webinar today, 3 PM EST: Is Science Broken? featuring Yours Truly. Free, but you have to register.

Recall there is no such thing as unconditional “excess deaths”. Which is to say, there is no such thing as “excess deaths” per se. They can only exist conditional on some model.

For instance, here (as regular readers saw hundreds of times during the needless covid panic) are weekly all cause deaths in the USA, or so claims the CDC. I first subtracted all deaths claimed to be from covid, so this is a picture of all deaths except covid (to avoid nauseatingly boring discussions of covid). The green line is a simple model which assumes a linear trend for each week (there is a separate model for each week of the year), the trend to help account for population growth (however that comes about).

If you subtract the model from the average, the result is “excess deaths”, which can even be negative. Meaning times in which not as many people died as the model said would. Why didn’t those were supposed to die not die? Don’t know. Why did people die when the model said they would? Don’t know. Why did more die than the model said would? Don’t know. There is no notion of cause in the model, so there can be none in the “excess deaths.”

How about if we take this “excess death” series and “correlate” with other measures, like, oh, I don’t know, temperature? In other words, we have modeled “excess deaths” and then we next model those “excess deaths” with temperature. If the correlation was, say, positive, could we claim that warmer temperatures were causing more “excess deaths”?

No, sir. We could not.

For one, it’s just correlation! If temperature were slightly “out of phase” from my original model for deaths, we’d have a spurious correlation, which of course would give the wrong idea about cause.

All right, that’s the throat clearing. Now the peer-reviewed paper “Excess mortality attributed to heat and cold: a health impact assessment study in 854 cities in Europe” by Pierre Masselot and others in The Lancet: Planetary Health. The “Excess mortality” signals we’re dealing with a mortality model, as above, and the “attributed”—which is causal language—signals we’re dealing with a temperature model on top of the mortality model.

Now it’s rare for somebody to be killed by temperature. Freezing to death happens, but not that often, and especially not that often in major European cities. Same thing with, say, stroking out in the sun. Just as we saw that other day with heat and blindness, if heat was so deadly by itself, a good swath of the world, like Florida in summer, would emit a big stink from the rotting corpses. Yet, somehow, people survive.

Here are their Methods, which you can skim:

We included urban areas across Europe between Jan 1, 2000, and Dec 12, 2019, using the Urban Audit dataset of Eurostat and adults aged 20 years and older living in these areas. Data were extracted from Eurostat, the Multi-country Multi-city Collaborative Research Network, Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, and Copernicus. We applied a three-stage method to estimate risks of temperature continuously across the age and space dimensions, identifying patterns of vulnerability on the basis of city-specific characteristics and demographic structures. These risks were used to derive minimum mortality temperatures and related percentiles and raw and standardised excess mortality rates for heat and cold aggregated at various geographical levels.

Three stage method!

Now their findings (I added commas in the numbers):

Across the 854 urban areas in Europe, we estimated an annual excess of 203,620 (empirical 95% CI 180,882–224,613) deaths attributed to cold and 20,173 (17,261–22,934) attributed to heat. These corresponded to age-standardised rates of 129 (empirical 95% CI 114–142) and 13 (11–14) deaths per 100,000 person-years. Results differed across Europe and age groups, with the highest effects in eastern European cities for both cold and heat.

So cold is causing, they intimate, some 200,000 extra deaths, and heat is causing about ten times fewer. Every year. Global cooling is a threat!

Well, there are not 200,000 people who freeze to death in Europe every year. Maybe, and only maybe, there are 2; at an extreme stretch, 20. But 200 is unbelievable. And there aren’t a tenth that many who die of heat frustration. So what could have happened to make them say this?

I’m tempted to cut and paste that three-stage method spoken of above. But I’ll resist the temptation because it requires too much familiarity with statistical terminology. In brief, it’s one overly complex non-causal model taken as causal feeding into a second model of the same nature, the output of which is then fed into a third, the uncertainty of each step being abandoned, forlorn, left by the wayside. Model upon model upon model.

They go on to use thick and furious causal language: “mortality impacts” (that’s a noun phrase, friends), “total burden [of deaths] for both cold and heat”, “impact [deaths] of cold”, “heat-related effects”.

They claim cause outright: “This study provides a comprehensive mortality impact assessment related to non-optimal temperatures in the urban population of Europe…”

This is nuts. They have no warrant to claim cause. They can’t even claim it indirectly, through the academic use of flimsy and watery words like “associated”. They have only correlations from the output of one model in other models downstream.

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### 26 Comments

1. Al

It’s a doozy alright, model inputs based on model outputs & assumed causation etc. But not sure why the models were configured to suggest that cooler rather than the entirely more fashionable warmer temperatures are to blame. Did they accidentally tell the wrong lie?

2. Hagfish Bagpipe

A1:

”But not sure why the models were configured to suggest that cooler rather than the entirely more fashionable warmer temperatures are to blame. Did they accidentally tell the wrong lie?”

More people croak in winter. That number was too fat to ignore. Expert slugs too lazy dull to find creative way of reversing result so more people fried than froze. Or maybe inter-expert funding rivalry, backstabbing, sabotage, stupidity, et cetera. Lot of disgusting stuff goes into sausage-making.

Briggs:

”They have only correlations from the output of one model in other models downstream.”

Always fascinating to see how ridiculous castles spun of gossamer and floating in air can be presented as respectable edifices on solid foundations.

From the study:

”Additionally, we retrieved annual vital statistics for all 854 cities from the dataset of Eurostat.20 These data were available at various nested levels of the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS).”

They even admit their numbers are nuts.

3. JerryR

“ Why didn’t those were supposed to die not die? Don’t know”

Easy, because if they already died, they cannot die later. If one dies now because of unusually harsh circumstances, it will thin out the pool of those most likely to die. Then there will be a dearth later.

4. umm, you say “Well, there are not 200,000 people who freeze to death in Europe every year.” The exact value is unknown to me, but lots (Bet it’s >200K) of Europeans die from cold related issues every year. What happens is that the combination of substandard housing, pay-as-you-use heating, old age, rain, and social isolation lead to people choosing between heat and food, those choices lead to a weakening health/resistance, and, ultimately, lonely deaths in cold spaces.

You’re right about this paper, of course – but you don’t get publishing writing about deaths due to bad social policy and excessive taxation, do you?

5. The True Nolan

“They have only correlations from the output of one model in other models downstream.”

And sadly, when a “researcher” is parasitizing a decaying corpse of a culture, that is a hole just big enough to suck funding out of. Forget their methodology; their conclusion was politically correct, so they get published, and their status as reliable liars will bring them a bigger paycheck.

Knowing human nature, it is not a surprise that some self-styled “scientists” will prostitute their craft. The only surprise is how many of them there are, and why they sell their honor so cheaply.

(Thanks, Briggs, for all your work. You are a mighty oak.)

6. JH

What is that hockey stick at the end in the first time series plot? lol.

If you subtract the model from the average, the result is “excess deaths”, which can even be negative. Meaning times in which not as many people died as the model said would. Why didn’t those were supposed to die not die? Don’t know.

The number of excess deaths is calculated as the difference between the observed count and the estimated/expected count resulting from the model. A residual, roughly, that is. It can be negative due to the mathematical nature of model fitting. No hidden cause. One can modify the criterion of model fitting that will result in all positive values… if some bizarre theory demands so.

7. JH

How about if we take this “excess death” series and “correlate” with… temperature? In other words, we have modeled “excess deaths” and then we next model those “excess deaths” with temperature. If the correlation was, say, positive, could we claim that warmer temperatures were causing more “excess deaths”?

No, sir. We could not.

Oh… instead, you could conclude Trump was correct in claiming that heat would kill coronavirus and therefore less ‘excessive death’? LOL.

8. JH

There is no notion of cause in the model, so there can be none in the “excess deaths.”

Models can enhance our understanding of and tease out possible causes. You might not believe that “those in warmer areas were up to 44 percent more likely to have vision problems,” or that there is a more than usual high incidence rate of lung cancer in men in Taiwan. However, both conclusions are based on empirical evidence. Researchers are taking steps, however small it might be, looking for evidence of possible causes, e.g., heat and association with certain genes… by employing models.

Saying that “models cannot help in discovering causes (models only say what they’re told to say)” is like saying that “a clinical thermometer cannot help in discovering your sickness (a thermometer only says what it’s told to say.” After all it is constructed by human beings.).

How can one sort through the big data without modeling and graphical methods is beyond me. Can one employ theology and philosophy to do so? No. Well, one may argue that how to choose valid potential factors and interpret statistical results is of importance and a concern of the philosophy of statistics.

9. JerryR

This is for Briggs and an obvious change from the topic:

Since we are talking excess here, I did a straightforward analysis of “Excess” votes in Georgia on the 2020 election that I had not seen before. I used Excel. I define “excess” as additional votes compared to 2016 and did an analysis by county. For example, in 2020, 968,000 more votes were cast for Biden and Trump than were cast for Clinton and Trump in 2016. Only one small county actually cast less votes. (I know this is really not excess votes.)

Obviously, for Biden to win, more of these additional votes had to be cast for him. Biden got 596,000 more votes than Clinton and Trump got 373,000 more votes. So I calculated the additional votes by county and the number over 2016. Using the 2016 votes, in one county, Rockdale, Biden got 106% of the additional votes. The votes in Rockdale county were 7,518 more in 2020 but Biden got 7,982 more votes than Clinton. Biden actually increased his lead over what Clinton had done four years earlier by 8,446 votes just in this one small county because Trump actually lost votes in this county. (Rockdale is a small suburban county near Atlanta)

Looking at the other counties, Fulton does not come up as the biggest place proportionally where Biden got more votes. Yes, he definitely got more votes there but proportionally not as much as several others counties. In other words most of Biden’s unusual increases over Clinton came in counties that were not as overly proportional for Clinton in 2016 as Fulton.

The top counties providing additional votes disproportionally to Biden were Rockdale, Douglas, Henry, Fayette, Cobb, Forsyth, Columbia, Lee, Gwinnett and Paulding. About 73% or 161,000 of Biden’s additional votes came from these counties, all way above what would be expected if all conditions were the same.

This is not saying these votes were cast illegally but if they were, then looking at Fulton County was mainly a red herring. Someone should investigate what happened in these other counties. All the focus was on a video of the counting room in one room in Fulton County.

Sorry to change the subject, but I have not seen this analysis before and wanted to see what was wrong with it. What changed in these other counties to cause such a large change in votes for Biden.

My guess it was Zuck bucks.

10. JH

Briggs: “Now scientists say climate change is making us BLIND“.

Researchers: “Those in warmer areas were up to 44 percent more likely to have vision problems”.

Maybe the researchers did conclude what Briggs, but they are two very different conclusions.

11. Cary D Cotterman

An average of 234 people per studied urban area died from cold? Ridiculous!

As for the present-day hysteria about heat deaths–it makes no sense. I grew up in California’s San Bernardino, San Joaquin, and San Gabriel valleys, three of the hottest regions of North America. Neither my family nor anyone I knew of had air conditioning. None of the schools I went to had AC. We opened windows, turned on fans, played in the sprinklers. Activities did not cease, even in summer. Nobody made a BFD of it. Nobody, including my ancient, frail grossmutter, died.

12. Milton Hathaway

I suppose if you are stuck in the “publish or perish” system, one approach is to start with the obvious (e.g., sick people in the final months of their life tend to die sooner than expected if stressed, and heat/cold are stressful). It makes it much easier to obfuscate correlation as cause if the cause is already obvious.

JerryR: I think the wide divergence of opinion on the integrity of the 2020 election depends on how people answer these questions:

– Is it ok to sign your mail-in ballot and hand it to your spouse to fill out for you because you trust their judgement?

– Is it ok to sign your unvoted ballot and put it in a box at church?

– Same question, but you vote for one or two races that have been in the news that you care about, and then sign your ballot and put it in the box at church – is that ok?

– You receive someone else’s ballot in the mail (deceased relative, previous occupant of your home that moved out-of-state, etc), is it ok to vote that ballot? What if you know there is zero chance of getting caught (there have been stories on the news recently about how hard it is for the elections folks to detect these, but not to worry, people are basically honest and this rarely happens, our elections have always been secure).

– There is someone going around the neighborhood buying signed ballots, and you really need the money and voting doesn’t really matter anyway, is it ok to sell your ballot?

– You don’t really care much about elections and are pretty tuned out of politics, and you certainly wouldn’t take time out of your busy schedule to drive to the local polling place, you have better things to do. You didn’t even register to vote, but were registered automatically the last time you bought tabs for your car. You didn’t request a ballot, but one came in the mail anyway, and the return envelope already has postage attached. It will take you three minutes to vote against a couple of nasty people everyone you know assures you are just horrible. Is it ok to vote the ballot?

Taken together, the consequences of large-scale mail-in voting can explain everything suspicious about the 2020 election. While some of the above are illegal, almost all are undetectable, at least at the individual voter level. Statistics tell the story, albeit unprovably and untimely.

Republicans have mostly drunk the Kool-Aid on large-scale mail-in voting and push-registering voters, but want to tinker around the edges in the name of election integrity. That tinkering promises to be ineffective, but the Demonrats still fight it tooth and nail, they can’t let any notions of election integrity gain any sort of foothold.

The Demonrats need an uninformed and government-dependent voting population to retain power, and the Republicans have essentially given it to them without a fight.

13. This nonsense planet-wide circle jerk by scientismists is by design and won’t stop until the globalist oligarchs have AI properly ensconced as the font of all knowledge and moral authority. Once everyone worships “super-intelligent AGI” the scientismists will be purged as heretics and apostates.

14. JerryR

Milton Hathaway, thank you for your comments.

“Taken together, the consequences of large-scale mail-in voting can explain everything suspicious about the 2020 election. While some of the above are illegal, almost all are undetectable, at least at the individual voter level. Statistics tell the story, albeit unprovably and untimely.”

I can’t entirely agree. The statistics I tried to show are different than what everyone presented. For example, Fulton County was not the real issue but other counties were. Fulton significantly influenced additional votes but not an unusual predominance if more people just voted.

Everything I presented was available the day after the election though a slightly more accurate account was unavailable for a few more days. So what happened in Rockdale County and other similar counties to make the much higher percentage of additional votes go to Biden? Each of these counties has Republicans to ask questions.

Now all the things you numerate could be the explanation but the focus was on the wrong places from the start when available statistics should have sent the direction elsewhere.

Instead, we are treated to videos of a counting room in Fulton County, questions about voting machines and other straw men hypotheses. It is too late to do anything other than try to highlight the real reasons for what happened.
————

Paul Murphy, thank you for your link.

I was well aware of the great disparity between counties across the country. However, I am interested in the change in the voting percentage from one election to another in the same county and what caused this change. Was it legal? So far, no one has offered anything definitive.
————

Also, in Arizona, Pina County was just as suspicious as Maricopa County, while nearly all the discussion was on Maricopa. Trump increased his lead over Biden in most Arizona counties by small amounts but the vote changes in two counties, Pina and Maricopa, overwhelmed these increases.

My purpose is to show how unlikely some of the “excess” voting patterns are. That is why I addressed it to Briggs. Why some counties and not others? It could be shown even better at the precinct level but that would take a few days to analyze if the information was readily available.

Did the Zuckerman money somehow affect turnout and who handled the mail votes? But more is needed on this. So there may not have been anything illegal in all the votes, but were these influences legal?

15. Rudolph Harrier

I learned all I needed to know about “excess deaths” after the pandemic. There was a paper (I believe it was discussed here) which claimed to analyze whether or not the lockdowns were harmful due to things like people not being able to go to the hospital for non-COVID issues, increased rates of depression, etc. The “excess deaths” certainly suggested this conclusion, since they were still high even if you subtracted each and every COVID death. But the paper decided, without evidence, that any increases of deaths from the lockdowns must have been offset by decreases in things like traffic accidents, and therefore each and every “excess death” could only have been due to the coof. Bingo, tons of new COVID deaths to terrify people with.

I wonder if they still believe that all the “excess deaths” are due to COVID, even today. If so, it would mean that people are dying both due to the coof and due to heat/cold. Since no one is measuring anything, you can throw more causes of death for those people in while you’re at it: we might as well say they also died of systemic racism.

16. Gunther Heinz

I know a guy who had the rear window of his car busted in because somebody thought the stuffed toy in the back seat was a real animal. Not too smart people there in Baltimore.

17. Uncle Mike

Clearly, cold is ten times worse than warmth, mortality-wise. Warmer Is Better for human health and survival than colder.

If you doubt this, look at models when they’re warm and when they’re cold. Big difference. You can believe me, because I’ve looked at plenty of models.

Warmer is also better for agriculture, because plants need warmth. You may have noticed that plants won’t grow on ice. Models eschew ice, too.

Conclusion: global warming is good for you, and plants, and models. Don’t fall for the agitprop. Use your common sense.

18. Tom Welsh

“…the “attributed”—which is causal language…”

And, one also notes, in the passive voice. “Attributed” – but by whom?

19. Spreading any closed bubble of lies can only result in an economically pre-programmed disaster, example: With the closed bubble of lies linked in news.google.* (and in scholar.google.com/scholar?q=… etc), Google is boycotting itself by limiting its reach to a small fraction of online users in addition to excluding wide swaths of truthful content from its reach; that’s the competitive difference to Twitter’s Musk.

20. Johnno

Rudolph, they are already blaming excess myocardiris and strokes on the coof without evidence, because the only other new thing introduced into billions of people was the vexxine, and they can’t blame that, therefore, hey Preston, “long-coof” will be the explanation for every sudden drastic mysterious uptick in health issues, and all of which waited years to manifest, coincidentally, only after mass-vexxinations were forced. But you can’t entertain that as a link, some bureaucrats feelings will get hurt. That makes it malicious on your part! Even if it is the truth! And this is why the censors must now turn their gaze upon malinformation as the next Russian province of the infowar!

21. gareth

A rather late comment, but JoNova reporting Patrick Moore @EcoSenseNow points out the dodgey dealings in the axis of the graph Fig 3 in the paper. They stretched the lower range of the scale of the “Heat Deaths” by about 5x to make the numbers seem similar to the cold. But they then inserted a couple of break marks such that the max of the axis was still 250. So it reads 10, 20, 30, 40, … 250. That for me is the tell that the intent was fraud.

22. Forbes

Ann Cherry has just posted the link I came here to post. Thank You.

The chart is hilarious.