Monday, April 27, 2020

The 'totally convinced'


Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash

Although I read a lot about COVID-19, I find I struggle to figure out what I should do, what other people should do and what the government should do in response. There is just so much that isn't known about the disease yet. I do my best, but I am full of doubt.

If your social media feed is like mine, you are getting a lot of commentary from "experts" who are convinced the lockdown should end immediately, the lockdown should continue for months, what everybody should do, etc.

A couple of quotes. Here is one of my favorites from Robert Anton Wilson: "The totally convinced and the totally stupid have too much in common for the resemblance to be accidental."

And here is a Friday  blog post from Tyler Cowen, "How things are, in a few short words."

If we keep the economy closed at current levels, it will continue to decay, and at some point turn into irreversible, non-linear damage.  No one knows when, or how to model the course of that process.  That decay also will eat into our future public health capacities, and perhaps boost hunger and poverty around the world.

If we keep people locked up at current levels, fewer of them will be exposed to the virus, and in the meantime we can develop better treatments, and also improve test and trace capabilities.  No one knows how quickly those improvements will come, or how to model the course of that process, or how much net good they will do.

The relative pace of those two processes should determine our best course of action.  No one knows the relative pace of either of those two processes.  Yet commentators pretend to be increasingly knowledgeable, moralizing based on the pretense of knowledge they do not have.

That is where we are at!  And here is my earlier post Where We Stand.

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