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Models to think about COVID
Wisdom Letter #47 | Swans, Rhinos & The Elephant in the room.
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Are you wearing face masks these days?
Do you think governments should mandate citizens to wear masks when outside in public places?
Will such a mandate infringe your individual rights and freedom? Will you go out to protest against such a mandate by your government?
Last week, I came across this brilliant meme—
“More people are killed by the Flu” has become the go-to argument for many people these days. People who are not comfortable with the massive change that this pandemic demands of them.
This, and other such lazy arguments stem from their reluctance to adapt to an unprecedented situation in their life.
Think about the unwanted discomfort people are having to go through — forced social distancing and isolation, living away from loved ones for long periods of time, wearing masks, washing hands, uncertainty around a vaccine, the threat to their life by an invisible infinitesimal virus.
Add to that the risk to their jobs, high economic uncertainty, mixed, and often confused messaging from the authorities. All these factors have broken down any existing and comforting models of the world that people had learned growing up.
Adapting to newer models of thinking well into adult life is a daunting challenge for all of us.
And yet, that is what we all must do in the wake of this pandemic.
We all have our wish-lists of stuff to do when things “get back to normal”.
We implicitly(perhaps inaccurately) believe that this virus is just a phase, and the world would be back to the way it was as soon as we have a vaccine or a cure.
Some of the more intellectually honest among us are spending their time in isolation searching for the “new normal”.
While they have the audacity to admit to themselves that things have changed forever but they still have the naïveté to believe that we can figure out the new models of the world in the middle of the pandemic.
They too seek the comfort of the known, the familiar and the “normal”.
The harsh truth might be that the new normal lies way beyond our imaginations.
The world after Corona will certainly be very different from the world before Corona. And it may also be way different than the world during Corona.
That is the discomforting feeling of an “unknown unknown” we must learn to live with.
The Corona Virus has lessons for all of us, lessons on how to think about viruses and pandemics, as well as lessons on how to think about economic uncertainty, probability, globalization, and our own personal health.
This virus is perhaps the greatest test of our understanding of risk as a concept. A global social experiment being run where the consequences of failing can be dire.
The pandemic has been called a Black Swan, an unforeseen, highly improbable but impactful event.
It has also been called a Gray Rhino, an obvious but often neglected threat.
These are models that can help us think better about such high impact events at a global as well as a personal level.
Today on The Wisdom Project, we go looking for models to think about Covid. We try to understand why we are blind to probability and find comfort in certainty.
We see why Covid is not a black swan and what could have been done to prevent the damage. We see how it is indeed a gray rhino and what can we do to think better about such events in the future.
We meet a new creature, the elephant in the room that nobody seems to be talking about.
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Thanks for reading, see you next Sunday.
Aditi & Ayush