It’s hard to keep your head straight in this season of pandemic and panic, especially if, as I am, you are a victim of the virus.
So it is helpful to understand how our minds tend to mislead us. Marian L. Tupy, editor of HumanProgress and a senior policy analyst at the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, has written about this.
Here are some key points.
1. We have evolved to prioritize bad news. Organisms that treat threats as more urgent than opportunities have a better chance to survive and reproduce.
2. The media seldom provide a “compared to what” analysis or put terrible events in context. Coronavirus is deadly, but it is not the bubonic plague, which had a mortality rate of 50 percent, or the septicemic plague, which had a mortality rate of 100 percent.
3. Social media makes bad news immediate and more intimate. Until relatively recently, most people knew very little about the countless wars, plagues, famines, and natural catastrophes happening in distant parts of the world.
4. Remember that we have eradicated or almost eradicated smallpox, cholera, typhoid, measles, polio, and whooping cough. We have made great progress against malaria and HIV/AIDS. And the speed of our successes is increasing. The earliest credible evidence of smallpox comes from India in 1500 BC. The disease was eradicated in 1980. That’s 3,500 years of suffering. In 1980, we started to learn about HIV/AIDS. By 1995, we had the first generation of drugs that kept infected people alive. That’s 15 years of suffering. The Ebola epidemic raged between 2014 and 2016. The first Ebola vaccine was approved in the United States in December 2019. That’s five years of suffering. Last December, the coronavirus did not have a name. Today, human trials for the coronavirus vaccine are underway throughout the world.
Much more in the article.