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Mental Models For a Pandemic

Models for society

Using mental models will help in understanding the dynamics of the large-scale social response.

We are currently seeing first-order negatives (closing businesses), and 2nd- and 3rd-order positives (reduced transmission, less stress on the healthcare system.)

We need to encourage the thinking, analysis, and decision-making that considers the effects of the effects of the decisions made. Then we need to use a feedback loop. This will give us a better chance of making good decisions.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Mental Models For a Pandemic

Mental Models For a Pandemic

https://fs.blog/2020/05/pandemic/

fs.blog

7

Key Ideas

Understanding the world through mental models

A few months ago, the world seemed reliable, but now it is changing so fast and has so many unknown dimensions, it can be hard to try and keep up.

Mental models can help us understand the world better, especially during times of confusion. A mental model is simply a representation of how something works. It is a way to simplify complexity and provide direction for our choices.

Compounding

Compounding is exponential growth. We tend to see the immediate linear relationships in the situation, e.g., how one test diagnoses one person.

The compounding effect of that relationship means that increased testing can lead to an exponential decrease in disease transmission because one infected person can infect more than just one person.

Probabilistic thinking

In the absence of enough testing, we need to use probabilistic thinking to make decisions on what actions to take. Reasonable probability will impact your approach to physical distancing if you estimate the likelihood of transmission as being three people out of ten instead of one person out of one thousand.

When you have to make decisions with incomplete information, use inversion: Look at the problem backward. Ask yourself what you could do to make things worse, then avoid doing those things.

Models for society

Using mental models will help in understanding the dynamics of the large-scale social response.

We are currently seeing first-order negatives (closing businesses), and 2nd- and 3rd-order positives (reduced transmission, less stress on the healthcare system.)

We need to encourage the thinking, analysis, and decision-making that considers the effects of the effects of the decisions made. Then we need to use a feedback loop. This will give us a better chance of making good decisions.

The dynamics of a social response

As we watch the pandemic and its consequences unfold, we see that leadership and authority are not the same things.

Disasters expose the cracks in our leadership. We also see people that display strong leadership without needing any authority.

Ecosystems

One quality of an ecosystem is its resilience - the speed at which an ecosystem recovers after a disturbance.

  • One factor that interferes with our collective resilience is the thin buffer of our economy. The closing of shops and business has exposed the fragile supply chains. Individuals and businesses don't have enough money saved up.
  • The other is the social ecosystem. We don't have enough medical facilities and supplies. We optimized for a narrow range of possibilities and compromised the resilience of the system.

How to move forward

  • Cooperation is a powerful way to move forward both as individuals and societies. All of us have given up some independence for access to resources provided by others.
  • We can mitigate some negative effects by leveraging our community networks to create cooperative interactions that could fill the gaps in the government response. We can also create more resilient connections in the future.
  • Lastly, we need to consider how we can be less fragile. We can't just get "back to normal" as it proved to be too fragile. We need to ask how we can grow stronger so that we are better prepared and less vulnerable.

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Incomplete information and over-estimation
Incomplete information and over-estimation
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Thinking probabilistically to avoid overestimating our abilities

To avoid the trap of overestimating our own skill, we need to start thinking probabilistically. That means estimating the odds and adapting your decision-making accordingly.

Even if the decision had a good outcome, we still need to objectively analyse the quality of the decision-making underneath.

Learn to deal with tilting

Tilting means realizing that your emotions are not separate from the logic of your decision making - for example, the despair that comes from bad luck, or the overconfidence that comes from a win.

You can learn to cope better by regularly checking in with yourself to see what you are feeling and how you react. Once you have identified those feelings, then try to analyse how they're influencing your judgment.

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Support teachers' needs

While going through a crisis of any kind can be challenging for most of us, one category that for sure feels the change is represented by the teaching staff worldwide.

When asked to teach their subject via Zoom or applications alike, teachers have to change their way of presenting the topic, make them seem more interesting and, what is even more important, to make the class more interactive; this can eventually lead to sadness, anxiety and fear even for the most experienced teachers.

Mentoring relationships within schools

If there is one thing that teachers should be particularly good at, this has to be mentoring their students.

By doing so, not only do they guide an individual's self-development throughout his or her school years, but they also emphasize the idea of human interaction, which should actually be the basis for most of our successful actions.

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Past experience, which many experts think helps them to better understand the world, surprisingly does not improve the ability to predict the future. The research data showed accuracy levels of the younger generation (25 to 35 years of age) being the highest.

Old people are slower to comprehend change, faster to believe and share fake news and less likely to be objective.

Humility

Working with an open mind, ready to dive into unfamiliar territory and learning new things, makes the entire exercise stress-free and rewarding experience. This state of mind, along with basic humility makes for better performance. One’s arrogance, ego and past can negatively affect the prediction quality.

A humble attitude also makes people listen to others opinions and share their own unique insights, helping collaboration and constructive teamwork.

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