1/ Want to understand a big reason why so many governments are responding so poorly to the pandemic? Here's a question from the Cognitive Reflection Test:
2/ "In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, it doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the whole lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half the lake?”
3/ The first point of the Cognitive Reflection Test is to elicit a quick, intuitive response. But that response is wrong. And you will see it is wrong if you think carefully about the question. The second point of the CRT is to test if you think carefully.
4/ So what's this got to do with pandemic policy? The intuitive response that question elicits ("24 days") is linear. That's how we naturally and easily think. But the correct response is 47 days. The growth is non-linear. And we struggle to grasp non-linearity.
5/ Viral spread is very non-linear. But what we are seeing in so many government policies is linear thinking. It's a fundamental mismatch. And a lot of smart leaders either haven't figured this out ten months in. Or they aren't willing to buck the public's linear intuitions.

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More from @dgardner

9 Jan
If I had to show just one exhibit to make the case that we are the luckiest people who ever lived -- yes, even in this dismal moment -- it is this. The spice display at my supermarket. It's unremarkable, an ordinary object in most places around the world. That's the point. 1/ Image
I went to buy paprika. Everyone knows paprika. Common spice, famous as a staple of Hungarian cuisine, which is where English got the word. How did the Hungarians get it? From the expanding Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans got it from Spain. Spain got it from central Mexico. 2/
So just in that little paprika jar I bought for a few dollars is the culmination of centuries of war, trade, and cultural exchange and invention. And every damned jar in that rack has a story like that. Hence my conclusion about how lucky we are. 3/
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