all 159 comments

[–]Geometronics 1065 points1066 points  (12 children)

My favorite graph was very similar to this but instead of Google searching loss of smell it was number of bad reviews on Yankee candles

[–]FattyBoomBoobs 158 points159 points  (1 child)

Yes, I’m sure there was a graph on here showing the correlation (and causation)

[–]Calculonx 23 points24 points  (2 children)

So you're saying this new formulation of candles clearly causes COVID...

[–]Geometronics 15 points16 points  (0 children)

Now you're thinking with data

[–]37Schmeckles 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Lisa, Id like to buy your rock…

[–]x888x 51 points52 points  (3 children)

Google trends used to run a page on flu season.

Google searches for flu symptoms worked basically exactly like this. Leading indicator and you could trace it from region to region.

People get sick. People search for it. It becomes known. More people therefore get tested which means case counts go up.

[–]O2XXX 24 points25 points  (2 children)

Google flu also got crushed by algorithmic confounding when the ads portion started bumping up the numbers. It was pretty accurate for 3-4 years.

[–]hopingforabetterpast 2 points3 points  (1 child)

What do you mean?

[–]O2XXX 4 points5 points  (0 children)

The advertising algorithm began recommending flu medicine and doctors around the time flu season would start. This would cause more people to search the symptoms than actually had them, confounding the results. This link can probably explain it better than I am.


[–]Tommyblockhead20 8 points9 points  (0 children)

The person who made that got some critiques so they went back and corrected for things like typical seasonal trends and the effect was much smaller than the original viral graph, but definitely still existed. Here’s the Twitter thread.

[–]axesOfFutility -1 points0 points  (0 children)

Amazon reviews it was I think

[–]ocean-in-a-pond 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Aaah! I had a similar experience reading reviews for the PF Candle CO candles, reading that people thought the new formulation had no scent was a bit confusing lol. I get it now.

[–]theimpossiblesaladOC: 69[S] 108 points109 points  (7 children)

Anosmia, or the loss of smell, is one of the most common manifestations of covid-19, and one of the symptoms that differentiates it from other diseases with similar characteristics.

As it is clearly evident in the graph, during the first months of the pandemic when few things about covid-19 were known and testing was scarce, many individuals noticed the loss of smell and turned to the internet to find out what was wrong. The magnitude of these searches at the end of March 2020, translated a few weeks later to hundreds of deaths.

The story repeated itself many times, throughout all covid-19 waves. People noticed they couldn't smell, searched it on Google, and then a few days later cases were up, and a few weeks later deaths rose as well.The average interval between the spikes on Google Search Trends (GST) and Cases is about 9 days, while between GST and Deaths is 18 days. Thus Google search interest can be considered a good indicator of future covid-19 outbreaks.

On the Y-axis you can find the number of Cases, Deaths and Google Searches. Numbers for Google searches represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. The values on this graph never reached a 100, as the search interest line, along with the cases and deaths lines, are 7-Day moving averages.

You can find out more as well as look at the dataset by visiting my blog post.

Source: CDC, Google Trends

Tools: Numbers, Adobe Photoshop

[–]jrdubbleu 7 points8 points  (1 child)

This is excellent. Nice work.

[–]0N1ON 7 points8 points  (1 child)

Great analysis!

Off-topic -- If by "Numbers" you mean the macOS alternative to excel, you're literally the only person I've ever heard of using that software

[–]theimpossiblesaladOC: 69[S] 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Haha, indeed that's what I meant! :p

[–]Bubbagumpredditor 154 points155 points  (29 children)

Need to differentiate that deaths is the black line a little more clearly, maybe bold it more

[–]GolfSucks 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I was wondering what the black line was

[–]CBA_easy_as_321 34 points35 points  (9 children)

I wouldn't point it out if it weren't /r/dataisbeautiful, but this is:

"covid-19 Cases And Deaths And Search Interest for 'Loss of Smell' on Google vs. Time"


"covid-19 Cases and Deaths vs. Search Interest for 'Loss of Smell' on Google"

[–]SirDanTheAwesome 80 points81 points  (7 children)

Something about this is oddly terrifying. The amount of people who will have googled loss of smell with no idea that their lives would be over so soon after.

[–]redditshy 20 points21 points  (2 children)

SO soon. That is exactly what I was thinking as well. It is intense how quickly this disease can wipe out a life.

[–]alch334 -2 points-1 points  (1 child)

it's not really that soon, look at the x axis, this graph shows 2 years of progress. the black spike coming "immediately" after looks to be something like a month later if i had to guess.

[–]redditshy 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Dude. One minute you are walking around fine, get sick, and 18 - 30 days later you are dead? Even cancer does not do that to most people. What other illness knocks you out in 3-4 weeks? Ebola? It happened to my neighbor in this very building. It sucks. I was referring to the post that specifically said 18 days.

[–]AshleySchaefferWoo 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I was just thinking that same thing. That initial pink spike followed CLOSELY by the death spike is really terrifying. I can barely believe that just over 2 years ago it didn't even sound like a serious problem.

[–]balsdeep69 0 points1 point  (1 child)

You need to look at the axis of the graph. The amount of people that searched for loss of smel is quite small

[–]Teddy_Icewater -1 points0 points  (0 children)

As is the number of deaths. It's a bad graph in general, it gives no real information.

[–]Fewthp 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yes this is what struck me too. How many of those who googled that died a few days/weeks later.

[–]Joxsund 20 points21 points  (14 children)

why are deaths so much higher than covid cases? is this all deaths not including covid? im genuinely confused

[–]WidespreadPaneth 76 points77 points  (12 children)

There are 3 different scales in 3 different colors.

[–]CaptMurphy 68 points69 points  (11 children)

I hate that so very much. Like irrationally hate it. Is it just me?

[–]AdventurousAddition 15 points16 points  (0 children)

It highlights the similarity in their shapes, if one lags the other. The magnitude is not as important in such graphs.

[–]DDayHarry 40 points41 points  (3 children)

Its bad practice and can be intentionally misleading.

[–]SnooChocolates8068 33 points34 points  (2 children)

Despite the fact that I support the message being conveyed by the graph, let's face it: it's a REALLY bad practice to superimpose 3 different scales like this! Just normalize it, come on!

[–]WidespreadPaneth 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Probably not just you but personally, I don't mind. In my mind, it's just expected when comparing different measures.

What does bother me is the lack of info on the scales. I have to assume they're all per some number of people unless 45 Google searches per day is this predictive of a large population.

[–]PiBoy314OC: 2 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Google gives a number from 0 to 100 in their trends data. I think it corresponds to the fraction of the maximum searches? So the day/month/hour with the most searches would be 100, and everything scaled from there.

[–]spvcebound -2 points-1 points  (2 children)

It's a very misleading way to present data. Unfortunately in this situation, calling it out would seem like a very "anti-vaxxer" thing to do, which I'd rather not be associated with.

[–]nogberter 11 points12 points  (0 children)

It's not misleading what are you guys talking about. The purpose is to show the shapes of the trends of the three data sets. They are approximately normalized. If they were all on the same aexs it would be hard to see the shapes clearly. Of course they're aren't more covid deaths than covid cases. I will agree the three different fonts on the y axis labels looks stupid.

[–]CaptMurphy -2 points-1 points  (0 children)

Understandable. I think that's garbage and I'm boosted if anyone cares about my position on the matter.

[–]Owolabi_HEMY 5 points6 points  (0 children)

The graphy is well visualise.

[–]ShapardZ 11 points12 points  (7 children)

I feel like the scales are a bit misleading. But if you had a consistent scale the effect wouldn’t be as noticeable 🤷‍♂️

[–]z0mBy91 11 points12 points  (0 children)

How di you think so?

The problem is, that they are wildly different numbers, so you couldn't see anything when put into the same scale. Maybe a logarithmic scale would have worked tho :D

[–]NatStr9430 4 points5 points  (5 children)

Yeah, the 3 different scales is an interesting design choice…

[–]AdventurousAddition 6 points7 points  (0 children)

It was a choice made in order to convey meaning in the data. Without it, it would be difficult to see a pattern.

My one critique would be to more clearly show that this is being done (the OP preferred aesthetics slightly over clarity (I wouldn't say it is super unclear though, perhaps just that I am familiar with many graphs I've seen in research journals that use overlapping vertical scales to communicate relationships between quantities of vastly different scales)

[–]Muroid 14 points15 points  (3 children)

It’s a necessary design choice. The point of the graph is to show how the changes relate to one another. The relative magnitude of the numbers in each graph isn’t terribly relevant.

The scale that cleanly shows the spikes and troughs for each line is the one that is most useful, and that’s a different scale for each line.

[–]SnooChocolates8068 -2 points-1 points  (2 children)

Or you can just standardize the data and not do such a bad practice

[–]nogberter 4 points5 points  (0 children)

If by standardize the data you mean normalize the data then this is essentially what is done already by having the 3 different scales. What does "standardize the data" mean to you and how would it look different than this plot?

[–]AdventurousAddition 2 points3 points  (0 children)

If you normalise it, then you are doing exactly the same thing (ie: shifting the scales)

[–]ThePuzzledPeople 3 points4 points  (1 child)

I like the idea of showing three different scales. In my field of work most would just write normalized on the axis and show the normalized distributions. Always hated loosing the extra information

[–]AdventurousAddition 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Exactly! Others here are calling for normalisation, but actually this graph retains a bit of extra info by not doing that

[–]DavidNipondeCarlos 1 point2 points  (0 children)

My wife wants to continue with respirators. I have faith that her higher standards are a message for me. I mask.

[–]theboblit 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Don’t google “loss of smell”.

[–]avipars 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Look at Yankee Candle reviews over the last 2 years

[–]Giraf123 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Still have a lowered sense of smell 3 months after having Covid, and it fucking sucks. I usually have a really good sense of smell, and can figure out who's shirt I have in my hand just by smelling it. It has been borderlining a handicap for me sometimes when I can smell ketchup/citrus/spoiled food in a room where noone else can smell it. I miss it now though.

[–]convenientgods 1 point2 points  (0 children)

From this I gather that you die after googling “loss of smell” so I’m going to make sure not to

[–]shiningPate 1 point2 points  (0 children)

So are those searches for "Loss Of Smell" the atomic number of searches, or in some power of 2 units (eg, K, M, G, etc)?
15, 30, 45 instances of search for loss of smell doesn't seem very high. You could probably track that down to specific individuals

[–]desfirsitOC: 44 5 points6 points  (3 children)

It's very nice, but once the symptom got known, people could have googled it just for looking it up, and they will naturally do it more when more people get it. So I'm not sure that it is a good indicator of future cases - we don't know what causes what.

[–]merlin401OC: 1 34 points35 points  (1 child)

The fact that googled smell loss was a leading indicator to cases is a good indication though

[–]the_blue_bottle 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I think it depends, is "loss of smell" the entire query? Or is it also looking for eg "covid loss of smell"?

[–]AdventurousAddition 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Yet this chart shows that they are strongly correlated (but that the proportionality changes between outbreaks)

[–]Whatever_acc 8 points9 points  (4 children)

As paramedical (not scientific, just personal observations) I've noticed Wuhan caused smell loss most often, even in asymptomatic cases, Delta was like fifty fifty with the smell loss and Omicron doesn't cause it in most of people.

[–]Bierkerl 9 points10 points  (1 child)

Yes, my brother had it at the very beginning and lost his sense of smell and taste. He still only has it back a bit, says it comes and goes at times. But I just had it last month (Omicron) and never lost taste or smell, thank goodness.

[–]R_V_Z 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I lost some taste for about two weeks. Garlic was the first thing I noticed being missing.

[–]chiefcrunch 1 point2 points  (1 child)

I lost taste for the og strain in March 2020, but no loss of taste for omicron in Dec 2021.

[–]akaymayday 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Same! Had OG in April and couldnt taste or smell for 3-4 weeks. Omicron in December and was fine in that department.

[–]TheSn00pster 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Can’t smell your own corpse. Blessing or a curse?

[–]LordSkywalkerr 1 point2 points  (6 children)

Interested why it went up during Omicron surge. I don’t know a single person, myself included, that got Omicron and lost sense of smell/taste. It was being reported it wasn’t a symptom of omicron too

[–]CosmoKramerJr 11 points12 points  (0 children)

Did you have a big enough sample size for your anecdote to be relevant to the analysis?

[–]Unusual-Ad2760 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Unless you knew 1000’s of people that got it then that’s not relevant. Anecdotal evidence is not real evidence

[–]saddam1 6 points7 points  (0 children)

My fam just got it and we all lost our smell and taste. Mine is finally back today.

[–]4pugsmom 2 points3 points  (1 child)

According to the Norwegian Christmas outbreak 13% of people lost smell/taste with Omicron. Better than 50% for Delta and almost 100% for OG but 13% is still millions of people

[–]LordSkywalkerr 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Thanks for the info clearly I was misinformed. Genuinely was unsure what the data was on Omicron for that symptom

[–]pawned79 -1 points0 points  (0 children)

Agreed. Tested positive in late January 2022 after having a stuffy nose. Three Pfizer’s and all I had was heavy congestion. Never had loss of taste nor smell. Never had a cough or any respiratory distress. I appreciate my Pfizer vaccinations.

[–]StrangerOnTheReddit 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This correlation always freaks me out because I naturally have a lost sense of smell. Everyone else gets this fancy warning sign to get tested, but that's just kinda my every day life lol

(And it's been like this for 10+ years, checked with doctors - it's fine! Just not great when that's frequently the first observed symptom in a pandemic...)

[–]zenotorius 0 points1 point  (0 children)

When “if your google search could kill you” becomes too real

[–]Speculawyer 0 points1 point  (1 child)

I lost my sense of smell, I better Google this. Oh, I might have Covid. Yes, I have Covid. Now I am dead.

[–]AdventurousAddition 4 points5 points  (0 children)

The progression as experienced by over a million people

[–]peachshib -1 points0 points  (3 children)

I'm sorry but this graph is very confusing.

The idea is great. The execution, not so much.

1) It's really hard to tell what the black line represents since "Deaths" doesn't stand out from the text well enough.

2) There's 3 different scales in the same axis. It makes it hard to read and is also a bit misleading.

[–]AdventurousAddition 6 points7 points  (1 child)

While I mostly agree, if people spent an extra ten seconds looking at the title (and it's colour scheme) and then at the vertical axis (and it's colour scheme) it should be quite understandable.

Then again, I have seen many graphs with multiples axes overlapping, so maybe it is my previous familiarity with brings me to do this.

[–]peachshib 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yeah, maybe it's the fact that I don't look at graphs often lol this took me so long to understand 😅 I feel like there must be a clearer way to show this data

[–]sweetlemon69 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Agreed. Very misleading.

[–]Matrix_Grid -1 points0 points  (1 child)

Shouldn't cases always be higher than deaths?

[–]AtrainDerailed 4 points5 points  (0 children)

look at the Y axis again

they arent equivalent numbers, hes showing the relationship of the change over time not the relationship of the numbers..

[–]pig-eons -1 points0 points  (0 children)

Shouldn’t cases always be higher than deaths? Or is sick people that died not counted in cases also?

[–]SnooChocolates8068 -2 points-1 points  (1 child)

You should standardize the data. 3 different superimposed scales without any unit of measurement indication is a really bad practice and can actually be a lot misleading. As professionals, we shouldn't be ok with it even if we agree with the overall message/intention of the visualization

[–]AdventurousAddition 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I agree, but if you normalise it then all you know is "proportion of the maximum".

In it's current state, you at least get some idea if the numbers involved (but it should be a little better explained / pointed out and labelled)

[–]BryanIsAbroad -2 points-1 points  (0 children)

So basically the cryptomarket

[–]OutrageousFix7338 -2 points-1 points  (9 children)

See how the death spike is AFTER the case spike. What happens ‘after’ you get diagnosed? You go to hospitable don’t you? What happens there? Well the data can speak for itself at this point…

[–]AdventurousAddition 2 points3 points  (8 children)

You go to hospitable don’t you? What happens there?

Many recover. Some die

[–]greg047 0 points1 point  (0 children)

It's an actual tool statistics specialists used to get a grasp on the covid situation in Russia because official information is so different from the real picture

[–]Past_Ad6110 0 points1 point  (0 children)

So using Google causes covid.. of course they'll want this suppressed

[–]Lando98 0 points1 point  (1 child)

What if I already can’t smell?

[–]thewholerobot 0 points1 point  (0 children)

So many jobs are available to you.

[–]acwill 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This infographic is kinda terrifying

[–]jouster85 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Is the biochemical pathway/mechanism for this underwood yet?

[–]britishkid223 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I still don’t have my sense of smell back and I lost it around mid 2021… But I still test negative for covid

[–]SJWest_ 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This looks nice but also yikes @ 3 different scales yolked to one axis.

[–]ThisDadisFoReal 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Kinda freaky that first spike is only befor the Black Death spike… 😬 no one searching it after

[–]ButterKnights2 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Better yet, looks at candle reviews. The amount of "this candle doesn't have any smell" is hilarious 😂

[–]SpinnerX49 0 points1 point  (0 children)

wtf is the black line. This needs a key

[–]DarkLasombra 0 points1 point  (0 children)

What I find interesting is that people still needed to search up that symptom after 2 years in a pandemic.