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Freakonomics - chapter 5

02:40 PM ET (US)
Hello TWJ! I'm glad to find this forum, miss you all. What a challenging time we are all living through.
My prayers for you, Dawn, as well!

I agree with Brenda that the wrong messages about Coronavirus prevention have been sent out when age has been the focus. Images of young people flaunting the recommendations have been so disturbing to see. The data show that people of all ages are being affected by this virus, so even if they are not selfless enough to be thinking of others and our health system's limitations, they should know they are not immune.
I also agree strongly with Jean, we need more outrage. It is hard to believe that our wealthy nation is so underprepared for this crisis. So many missteps have been made. I appreciate Debbie's comments about fear. I have spoken to a couple of family members who have not fully accepted and embraced the need for social distancing, don't seem to understand how vulnerable every one of us can be. Lack of understanding, minimization of the risks, and impatience to "reopen" our country to business are likely to add to the inappropriate behaviors. While I usually avoid discussions that have a political component with these family members, now is a time when it is so important to rise above politics and reach out to help people understand. In an ideal world, we would all be united in trying to conquer this virus, including with all other nations.

Regarding Brenda's comments on the parenting discussion, I agree that test scores do not reflect the full picture. Nevertheless, the correlations are interesting indeed. I liked the comment on page 175 after the discussion that it isn't so much a matter of what you do as a parent, it's who you are, i.e. "an overbearing parent is a lot like a political candidate who believes that money wins elections, whereas in truth, all the money in the world can't get a candidate elected if the voters don't like him to start with". We just saw that play out with Bloomberg vs. Biden. Think of what the money spent in this election could be used for instead, now that we are in such a crisis.

Thank you, Brian, for setting this up! Are we going to read Chapter 6 for next week? Is it time to pick the next book? And might you resend an e-mail with this link once/week so that we can have easy access?
Stay well everyone!
11:56 AM ET (US)
On the other topic of the chapter, I am interested in hearing what you think about their analysis on parenting. What I think is good to remember is that these results are only for the younger grades in school and doing well on tests is not really an indicator of success in life. Also, it seems like they keep coming back to IQ as being the really relevant factor involved. But I found some of their correlations interesting especially that the number of books in the house made a difference but reading to the child did not. I wasn't convinced by their explanation as to why they thought that was so. But they ended up saying it is more what parents are rather than what they do and that isn't encouraging as to where our society is headed.
10:11 AM ET (US)
I’ve found all of your comments interesting. Prayers for you, Dawn, during this particularly stressful time.
Since I have the paperback, I won’t refer to pages but note brief quotes. “Most of us are terrible risk assessors...Peter Sandman made this point in 2004 after a single case of mad-cow disease in the United States prompted an anti beef frenzy”. I think this point was evidenced in the panic shopping/hoarding of the past 2 weeks. However, interestingly, people who have the freedom to move about are continuing to shop and eat out and gather in bars and on beaches.
David Roane put up a post yesterday with a graphic showing the daily increase in the virus in the US and added a comment: “On the whole, we’re not staying at home. The Lowes in Little Ruston, LA had 1,300 paying customers today. That’s equal to 5% of the population. The crowds were similar to the Christmas season.”
The salient question then becomes: why is fear not a sustainable motivator? One reason, indirectly addressed in our chapter may be this: “But fear best thrives in the present tense. That is why experts rely on it; in a world that is increasingly impatient with long term processes, fear is a potent short-term play”.
In our DON’T TREAD ON ME, instant gratification, quick fix, pop a pill collective, perhaps we, as a country, are unwilling to take in the bigger picture, particularly if we perceive it may require sacrifice or discomfort on our part.
It seems to me that fear, and even outrage, flourish as motivators only to the degree we aren’t terribly inconvenienced.
05:27 PM ET (US)
this is relevant to the message I sent last week (3/16) about outrage vs hazard; the current virus is exhibiting high morbidity w/ low mortality (1% at last calculation). I agree people should be following guidelines but allowing the health care industry and researchers into testing, treatment, vaccines, etc. is paramount and I believe the current administration is NOT allowing the simple formula of TIME to work.

on another front, I request prayer/positive energy for following situations:

my mom took a fall at her apt in OH one week ago: deep gash on forehead and sprained wrist but doing okay. someone at church brought her homemade beef&noodles + applesauce cake, so she's a happy camper;

I have been temporarily separated from employment w/ RAH effective 3/30/20; the co. is continuing my health ins. coverage through 5/1/20 and I will be reinstated when hours go back to usual. one of the clinics (in Gray) has closed indefinitely and the NJC hours will end at 6p.m.; other staff is being laid off as well.
I am calling/texting other clinics at which I work so hopefully I can pick up a few days over the next 4-6 weeks, which is estimated time for "recovery" of usual routines.

thank you for being here and Brian, I continue to appreciate your background and willingness to utilize IT skills: Dawn D.
08:33 PM ET (US)
I agree about the issue of control vs non control but let’s add outrage to the mix. Why aren’t we seeing more outrage about the lack of preparation & slow response? Or is it Trump’s outrage over anyone questioning his decisions. We keep reading that his base is loyal because they feel so disenfranchised which translates to powerless & no control. Is that the blind loyalty because he makes them feel safe by assuring them over& over & over & over that he is taking care of all this scary stuff for them as well as stoking outrage that they have been ignored. Convincing them they need to outraged over these superpredator Ds. That’s the emotion the author called the most powerful. I think this is an immediately relevant chapter. Sure made me think.
Edited 03-23-2020 08:36 PM
07:00 PM ET (US)
I think you and the authors are right in the assessment of control vs. non-control is assessing risk. It is particularly relevant right now with Covid-19. In one sense we have no control over this virus but in another sense we do because we know we have control if we stay home and take the steps we have been advised to do. But some still do see it as not that risky and are willing to go out anyway. I think it is because they think they are immune from getting it or if they do it won't be that bad. That's why I think the wrong message is being put out about it mostly affecting older people and those with underlying conditions. Do we really think younger people care that much about something they think doesn't affect them seriously? I think the better message is the one being given by the medical personnel that they are working to protect us and we should stay home to protect them. We can't overwhelm the healthcare system as has happened in other places or put those working at keeping our society going at greater risk. That's a message that might resonant with all age groups.
Brian WyattPerson was signed in when posted
12:38 PM ET (US)
Hello, TWJ Friends! This is our forum to try and keep our TWJ discussions alive while we aren't able to meet in person. For chapter 5, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the swimming pool vs. gun issue (similar to the driving vs. flying issue). I think the authors are correct in linking the latter toward things we can control vs. things we cannot control. I also think we are notoriously bad at assessing real risk (and certainly being inundated with media reports that have been produced with the intent of maximizing viewership as opposed to clearly communicating facts does not help us accurately assess risk). Thoughts?

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