The Flat Learning Curve
Are you familiar with the concept of the learning curve? It is an inexact measurement of how quickly a subject is accepted and internalized.
If you sign up for a class you want to take, whether it be square dancing or snow skiing or riding a motorcycle, the learning curve will likely be steep.
With motorcycles, you can enroll in a basic rider class, and in one evening plus a weekend you will be considered, at least legally, competent to ride a motorcycle on public roads. That is a pretty steep learning curve.
Now look at the virus pandemic, and the curve flattens quite a bit. The Sturgis motorcycle rally takes place and a surge in virus cases ensues. Trump holds a large rally where people eschew masks and a virus surge ensues. Many times. Several state governors decline advice to close things down, and a virus surge ensues. Yesterday it was reported than one in every thousand residents of North Dakota has now died from the virus. There are hundreds of examples like this.
Today, millions of Americans are ignoring lots of expert advice in order to fly somewhere for Thanksgiving to enjoy the holiday with relatives. Guess what will happen?
One definition of insanity is repeating a behavior with disastrous results with the hope it will be different this time. Spoiler alert – it won’t.
It is often stated that “Freedom is not free,” usually referring to the sacrifices of women and men, and their families, who serve in the armed forces. Now we have a new application.
Americans enjoy the freedom to think for themselves. I would never want to obstruct that, but there can be costs associated with freedom of thought, and in this case the cost can and does include hundreds of thousands of deaths of people who are innocent victims of those who choose to believe they do not need to mask up or stay a safe distance away. There are still many who choose to believe the entire pandemic is some sort of hoax that benefits…somebody. There are reports of people who still believe it is a hoax, even as they lay dying in a hospital.
It gets worse. Many people are boarding planes today to fly “home,” where they will enjoy Thanksgiving with relatives, who are usually parents and/or grandparents, who are older and therefore more at risk.
This is a combination of a flat learning curve and a willing suspension of logic and facts. We all have things we believe in that cannot be sustained by logic or facts, but most of them do not endanger others, and certainly not the members of your family you presumably want to keep safe.
What is to come? In two weeks, there will be a further surge of new cases. Two weeks after that we will be heavily into the holiday season. Almost every religion or philosophy has a celebration near the winter solstice, usually involving celebrations with others. Then you add in end of the year parties for many workplaces. Then you add New Year’s celebrations. Thus, another surge in cases should arrive in mid-January.
Pretty grim, I am sorry to say. But the flat learning curve of others does not have to apply to you. Mask up, keep your distance, and postpone group celebrations until it is safe.
Somewhere, Darwin is smiling.
I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving. I will be holed up at home, enjoying a feast prepared by my neighbors, with my portion delivered to my door.
I can live with that.
Copyright 2020 David Preston