Nassim Taleb on Why It’s Better to Panic Early About the Coronavirus

Why should we take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19? It’s not for our sake but for the sake of other people. This is one of the main points of Taleb’s video. If we can slow the spread of this disease we can lesson the impact on vulnerable populations. Personally, I’m unlikely to die from COVID-19 but I could easily pass the virus on to an older person who might. It’s another “Not me. us.” moment.

The other important fact is that the death rate for a highly communicable disease is not static. If our hospital systems are overwhelmed we’ll see an exponential increase in the fatality rate.

The time is now, if you can, to halt travel, to avoid large groups and to get ready. As Taleb says, it would be better to error on the side of caution than to not take this threat seriously.

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  1. I completely agree. I think this is one of those times where the term “better safe than sorry” is very real. While I don’t think it’s time to go the route of South Korea or Italy yet, I do think that there’s not enough action being done in the states yet.

  2. I’ve organized my life in such a way as to not need to panic at all over much of anything. I keep a one year reserve pantry, have plenty of water set aside in tanks, a broad network of supportive friends and neighbors, enough cash set aside to ride out a storm… It doesn’t matter if the crisis du jour is a pandemic, an earthquake, unemployment… I know I’ve already done everything possible to manage. Beyond that it’s “las manos de dios.”

  3. I realized that I never commented on this post. The morning it came out, I ran into a neighbor whose company had closed their office for the week. Then I read this during my lunch break. I’d been doing very good hand washing but after reading this, I decided my commute (15 stops on the subway each way) followed by an elevator ride in a full skyscraper near Times Square was no bueno. So I gathered a few office supplies to facilitate working from home and left. My company’s stance through March 13th was the office is OPEN (my husband works at a private school that closed as of March 8). I am senior enough to have leeway to work from home when I want but the junior employees, especially those on visas, mostly felt no choice but to continue going to the office. The following week we got news that one of our coworkers had tested positive for COVID-19. Other of my coworkers have been sick with the symptoms but could not get tested.

    I am so grateful I read this post – I’ll never know but it could have prevented me and my husband from getting COVID-19. We are now wearing cotton masks when outside the apartment based on the precautionary principle. I am feeling so much sadness for all the hurt that people are experiencing right now. The iconic image of NYC is an avenue full of people — it’s what they show in the movies but come to 6th Avenue in midtown during a work day – it really does look like that with heads bobbing up and down! Our social distancing is like, a kinda busy day in a lot of places. And now we have to all stay apart.

    But we have skills like cooking that help us during this time. And some of that I was inspired to learn from years of reading this blog! Yesterday I made some skillet pizza in a cast iron pan and I think that maybe I got the idea here? In any case, I wanted to express my thanks for this great information that prompted me to take positive action. love from BK.

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