Acting on Reason

Food for Thought

Many people are saying we should not compare COVID-19 to flu, but the comparison is not the problem. In fact, it is useful in understanding the risk more intuitively. Indeed, much of this coronavirus is very much like flu. The real problem is that most people are not rational, and they only respond to fear. If you say it’s like another flu, they would not do what they should do. The Internet is now filled with articles and comments attempting to scare people into action. I understand why they do this because people are indeed that stupid, but it’s not the ideal solution.

This fear tactic creates a lot of other unnecessary problems. For instance, if you are a rational person under 50, you would stay home and take all the precautions, but you wouldn’t worry. You can do things you enjoy that you haven’t been able to do, or spend some quality time with your family, because, for you, this is indeed just like flu. But this is not possible if what motivated you to finally do the right thing was fear. You are going to be constantly worried as if there are monsters out there trying to break into your home and kill you. If you were to be locked up in your apartment for a few months in this manner, you are going to have all sorts of mental problems that would eventually affect your body.

Even if you could work from home, you are not going to be productive because you wouldn’t be able to focus on the work. If millions of people behaved this way, it would have a significant economic impact.

Also, trying to scare people into action has a negative effect on insecure people. They are going to act recklessly on purpose just to prove to you that they are not scared.

Some scientists are saying the extreme measures taken by Italy may have created a bigger problem because when you are locked up in fear, and if you are over 70 with some minor symptoms, you are going to panic and rush to the hospital—all at the same time, overcrowding the medical system. Some of them may have caught the virus at the hospital.

So, there is a cost to manipulating people with fear. The ideal would be to encourage people to think for themselves more.

Photo: Homecooked “Beef Qua Ran Tin”