When You Don’t Listen To Experts

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread throughout the world, I have been thinking about the many experts I follow online. Twitter is a great place to find people from all walks of life, especially experts in various fields like science, medicine, finance, and more. There are types of experts that appear to be very smart, and likely are, but do not look good in worlds current situation. The experts I am referring to are “macro” and “geopolitical” experts, since the outbreak of Covdi-19 many of “macro” experts are revealing their inadequacies.

Macro experts are people that talk about macro events and policies. These people usually talk about geopolitics and economics. When talking about geopolitics they will discuss what entire “countries” are doing and what they should be doing. I put countries in quotes because these experts will use some data points or government policy to represent the entirety of a country’s actions. In many ways I have respect for some of the experts, they appear to have much more knowledge about various countries and policies than I do, but the pandemic we see spreading across the world has revealed major problems with these so-called geopolitical “experts”.

When Covid-19 began spreading across China, most of the geopolitical experts I follow were advocating that America do not shut down flights from China. These experts still do not advocate for Americans to prepare for a possible disruption. The experts only think in cost-benefit terms, usually on macro-economic levels. Therefore they do not want to see economic slow down at the behest of virus preparation. What the geopolitical experts fail to account for is uncertainty and the exponential nature of this viral outbreak.

Complexity researchers and people such as Nassim Taleb have warned since the initial outbreak that do to uncertainty and the downsides of inaction, the spread of a potentially very dangerous virus could be catastrophic. They understood that the virus spread will be non-linear, the spread will multiply exponentially if unchecked. Additionally, Taleb and others pointed to downstream effects of the outbreak, such as hospital overload and disruption. If too many people go to the hospital simultaneously, the public health system could break down and many more people could die. However this this type of thinking is not common among the geopolitical “experts” who believe the virus is merely “hyped up”.

Instead, the geopolitical experts have been touting the virus as “panic” and “hysteria”, but they could be wrong. If Taleb and complexity researchers like Joe Norman are wrong then people have prepared for a pandemic, and maybe their blood pressure was a little elevated. If the geopolitical “experts” are wrong then millions of people could die because they did not realize how dangerous the virus was.

Therefore I choose not to listen to many of these so-called “experts”. I would rather be ready and not use my preparations than need preparations and not have them.

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