The Real Risks and Human Biases behind the Panic | Mark Manson

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The Real Risks and Human Biases behind the Panic | Mark Manson
Welcome to a special coronavirus edition of MFM, the only weekly newsletter that refuses to cancel its flights and believes eating fruits and vegetables is more useful than wearing a face mask. Each week, this newsletter breaks down three ideas that usually revolve around social psychology, cognitive biases, and some light philosophy.


Key Ideas

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The need to remain in quarantine

The last three months have been extremely difficult for the entire world since the new virus made its presence known. People are requested to remain in quarantine worldwide in order to enable the h...


Health and the economic systems

During these dark days of the pandemic, countries chose to respond differently in front of their common enemy: while China made a goal out of saving as many lives as possible, the US seems to ha...


Our perception of the new virus

When faced with a danger like the current virus, individuals tend to have a reaction of whether extreme fear or one of denial. 

These reactions could be explained through a number...


The useful facts 

Now that the entire world is fighting the new virus, there are a few things which you might find useful to know:

  • Viruses like this have always existed and humans, in one way or anothe...



Children and dramatic events

Parents often assume that their children are oblivious to world events or are too young to understand what it all means. But they live in the same world that we do: they hear and see the news and t...

Set the context

For children, particularly younger ones, concepts of time, place and distance are not very clear.
Explain that the images they are seeing or stories they have heard are, for the moment, from places far away from here, otherwise, all can seem immediate and frightening. Context and reassurance are crucial.

How to talk about the new virus

... with your kids:

  • Choose a safe space and time and give them your full attention.
  • Check in with an open question about what they know and how they are feeling about the topic.
  • Let them lead the conversation with their questions.
  • Set a calm, reassuring tone and offer physical comfort.
  • Be honest but maintain appropriate boundaries and don't postpone the conversation.
  • Be honest about your emotions but let them know you will feel better soon.

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Wearing Masks

Wearing Masks

Due to the pandemic scare, many countries have enforced measures like social distancing, closure of transport options to decrease mobility and stay-at-home orders. These policies come in the shape ...

WHO Policy On Masks

The Official WHO policy until recently on masks was that they are to be worn by those who are sick and those who are taking care of the sick (doctors and nurses) or are at potential hazardous zones (like airports).

Experts suggest that a mask is not reliable protection while stressing on frequent hand washing.

Cultural Complexity

  • In Asian countries, we now see masks been worn by the general public and they are seen as safer and more considerate. These are the same countries where there have been serious outbreaks before and whose memories are still fresh and painful in the people.
  • The visibility of the mask acts as a visual reminder for everyone around, a sort of behavioral nudge. A mask makes us and others more aware of the situation. In crowded areas (like the Subway), if everyone is wearing a mask, the risk of transmission is lower.

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    A new playbook

    Growth evangelists are right when they state that severe lockdowns produce a parallel human misery of unemployment, looming bankruptcies, and extreme financial anguish. Yet, opening the economy too...

    The false choice

    “Save the economy or save lives” is a false choice.
    A group of economists published a paper on the 1918 flu outbreak. Their findings revealed:

    • Early and aggressive interventions saved lives and triggered a faster rebound, such as job growth and banking assets.
    • Without a healthy population, there can be no healthy economy.

    The hope is for a deep, short recession, to show that people have shut the economy down to limit the spread of disease.

    A living wage

    Asking millions of able-bodied workers to stop working creates a crisis of unemployment.

    During this time, the U.S. is expanding unemployment benefits and are also delaying tax filing. In northern-European countries, the government is directly paying businesses to maintain their payrolls to avoid mass layoffs and furloughs.

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