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Sun Jul 12, 2020, 10:55 AM

Our Minds Aren't Equipped for This Kind of Reopening

Interesting article in The Atlantic about why people make bad choices about what to do about COVID-19:

Reopening is a mess. Photographs of crowds jostling outside bars, patrons returning to casinos, and a tightly packed, largely maskless audience listening to President Donald Trump’s speech at Mount Rushmore all show the U.S. careening back to pre-coronavirus norms. Meanwhile, those of us watching at home are like the audience of a horror movie, yelling “Get out of there!” at our screens. As despair rises, the temptation to shame people who fail at social distancing becomes difficult to resist.

But Americans’ disgust should be aimed at governments and institutions, not at one another. Individuals are being asked to decide for themselves what chances they should take, but a century of research on human cognition shows that people are bad at assessing risk in complex situations. During a disease outbreak, vague guidance and ambivalent behavioral norms will lead to thoroughly flawed thinking. If a business is open but you would be foolish to visit it, that is a failure of leadership.

Since March, Americans have lived under a simple instruction: Stay home. Now, even as case counts spike in states such as Arizona, Florida, and Texas, many other states continue to ease restrictions on businesses, and suddenly the burden is on individuals to engage in some of the most frustrating and confounding cost-benefit analyses of their life. Pandemic decision making implicates at least two complex cognitive tasks: moral reasoning and risk evaluation.
As states gradually reopen, seemingly simple judgments are likely to grow more fraught. What does six feet between people look like? The literature suggests that I am more confident I’m six feet away from a friend than from a stranger, that I’m more likely to blame people not of my race for standing too close, that I overestimate my compliance with public-health guidance but underestimate yours. Humans have difficulty calculating exponents, which is particularly crucial to understanding the speed of disease spread. They struggle to estimate the correct answer to a problem without drifting toward the answer that best serves their own interest. With more freedom of movement, Americans also have more opportunities to make judgments of others—who always seem to be doing it wrong. How can people be sitting in groups, chatting, at an outdoor bar? Who would take their kid to swim in a public pool? Are you inviting those people inside your house?
The rest: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/07/reopening-psychological-morass/613858/?fbclid=IwAR14CNW5SU4Z3LBvlaOYlI8dpRPBF523gneuAhDc4RBn6YF4wYOxoW42YAs

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Reply Our Minds Aren't Equipped for This Kind of Reopening (Original post)
The Velveteen Ocelot Jul 12 OP
Igel Jul 12 #1

Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Original post)

Sun Jul 12, 2020, 11:36 AM

1. Add to it piss-poor at dealing with statistics.

All those really important, crucial things ... any given instance has a truly low risk of leading to exposure.

Exposure has a fairly low risk of leading to infection.

Infection, for many, has a fairly low risk of even leading to symptoms. And for everybody--even in those in the high-risk categories--a low risk of hospitalization.

And so people go ballistic if one person doesn't stand the right distance away wearing a face mask.

Call-out culture and I'm-being-abused culture's done a horrible thing. They say pre-modern humans saw evil agencies everywhere they looked; we're no better, we just call the evil, ill-intentioned demons and monsters and irate deities that lurk everywhere "people."

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