Mathematician Carl Jacobi’s imprecation works on more than questions. The idea is most often applied to problems and looking at from both sides. Can you study remembering? No, but you can study forgetting.
Suppose you have decided to control a pandemic by shutting down the economic activity in your area. You examine all sorts information. From social distancing, to masks, to crowd size reduction, to a range of sanctions for breaching the rules. Your answer lacks depth.
Should you expect no cases and no deaths? Not if you spend any time in the real world.
Have you assessed all the costs you are imposing within your answer? No.
You should examine the other potential answer. Do nothing.
That leads to other questions. Is the likelihood of cases spread evenly across all age groups and locations? Almost certainly not. The situation was known a little from results in other countries. For example Italy. In that situation most adverse consequences were confined to the elderly, particularly those in institutions.
Two clues to a response.
Other things that could be known albeit not clearly,
The humility question
In the beginning, there was too little information available to make reasoned and clear decisions. The familiar “fog of war” problem. Almost no one could have known what to do.
But, now we have 14 months of experience and know much more. Has that changed the social methods?
Few people are good at making decisions when presented with incomplete information. Especially when the problem is potentially serious. That’s why humility matters. In “foggy” situations, certainty is a problem. You run the risk of catastrophic outcomes.
The difference between people who are better at solving problems with little information, is people who are good at it tend to be less concerned about being right. They test small. They can quit doing things that don’t work.
Other people, often bureaucrats, and often politicians, are obsessed with being right. This group tends to rely on models. The models provide pseudo-certainty. Models add nothing to the fact collection.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of data resources about what happens, to whom, how long it takes, and what you can do about it. It is a vanishingly small probabilityt hat if we knew all of that 14 months ago, we would have chosen the path we did.
Notice who makes the decisions. So far the ones who benefit themselves by so doing.
You can assess four things.
There are very few complex problems that only one solution approaches work. Creative solutions require finding meaning and eventually new solutions.
That requires transparent results form the tests already conducted.
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