Thoughts on COVID

Someone asks why I haven't written about COVID? A good question. I haven't written about it because it's been done to death (pun not intended), and I don't have anything new to add to the debate/conversation. Since I was asked, I will rectify this apparent oversight.

I was initially worried about COVID in March of 2020 because there was so much I didn't know. I tried to update my model in a Bayesian fashion as I got more information. Further, I think there's a difference between staying updated and genuinely knowing a topic. Staying updated does not necessarily mean one has a deep understanding of a topic or issue. For Covid, I've mostly stayed updated and adjusted my model of the world accordingly. Even further, a piece on Covid from Thomas Thomas of the Sacrists would end with a recommendation. I don't have a proposal that most people are not already doing or would ignore. I do have suggestions for people in my circle, though.

That said, I think we are all learning the wrong lessons from Omicron. The biggest issue I see is that we all overrate our ability to do anything that will positively impact the landscape with this virus. Please note that I don't mean we can't do anything; I find that most people overrate the things they can do. This creates blindside risks and a possible perpetuation of the virus. Further, there's palpable fatigue with the virus that, in most cases, a new vaccine targeting Omicron would only serve to perpetuate the status quo of unhelpful lecturing. Also, we overrate our models of the virus as a general matter. What is the weighted average of the returns to the things we have gotten right and the downside to those we did not predict? I am willing to bet that the numbers on that should make us pause. Finally, the vaccine's effects on Covid seem, at least anecdotally, unfalsifiable. I am much less sure about this argument because I have not delved into the causal world of the vaccine. In other words, I have not quantitatively inferred the average effect of the treatment on the treated because I have neither the time nor reliable data.

Finally, at the risk of sounding curmudgeonly, kids, as a general matter, have gotten the short end of the stick in our response to the virus. I think this speaks poorly about our culture because we, through revealed preference, value the lives of adults more highly than we do of children. The same argument goes for Gen Z, I am currently thinking this through, but I wonder what the effects will be on our ability to respond to risks. We know that evidence of intergenerational transfer of risk attitudes exists; we also know the hidden dangers of being risk-averse. We should then ask: Are we raising a generation of risk-averse adults? What era should we look at, and how do we assess their risk aversion? If so, what are the implications of this for the future? If not, why not? Or what will the effect be on how we view and form families in the future. This should be higher up on our list of priorities, but how many good pieces have you read about this? You'd think that there'd be at least 13 good ones, right?

Certainty Rating: 81%


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