Has the world become complacent to existential threats?

in coronavirus •  2 months ago 

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I have to say the media are with some exceptions not covering themselves with glory at the moment. I don't mean anything as simple as bias or panic mongering, I mean something more profound. This crisis has revealed some underlying and unexamined assumptions of much of the media and indeed many intellectuals. The big one is that always and everywhere Everything Is Under Control (the title of a great book by Robert Anton Wilson btw).

That is why somebody must be responsible and there is always Someone to Blame. The idea that nobody is in charge or in control or that in fact a lot of the time things are out of control (or anybody's ability to control) is apparently too terrifying or alien to contemplate. This underlying mindset means that it becomes difficult to report on natural disasters (which are seen as somehow inexplicable and where the focus is on why people haven't restored control) or major public health emergencies.

There's lots of complaints that governments everywhere are making it up as they go along. Of course they are - I would be much more alarmed if they were not. A crisis like this is rather like being carried down a river by an out of control flood, a bit like white water rafting but worse. That doesn't mean there is nothing you can do, nor that you can't say that some people's making it up is proving to be more effective than others (although typically you only really find that out when it's over). The thing is to realise that this is about management, not control.

I think in the modern world we have become spoiled because it is very easy to think that everything is controllable and that we as a species are in charge of things. We forget that the universe is constantly coming up with new ways to kill us and above all that there's an irreducible element of simple chaos or randomness in life. (Taleb is going to get a huge boost in sales I predict, although this particular crisis is far from a 'black swan' more a light grey one).

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To the question in your title, my Magic 8-Ball says:

Yes definitely

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This bot beat me to it.