Case I: ‘Sir, do you know that he is hospitalized? They had a family function. They had their aasthan photographer from Chennai. This asymptomatic super spreader had made all the ‘35’ members experience COVID-19.’
My student and his family are safe and sound. The father went on a ventilator and survived by the skin of his teeth. Each person spent a couple of lakhs on the hospital bills, concerned about maintaining momentum in the economy.
How could such well meaning people succumb to the urge of having a family function, inspite of all warnings?
Case II: ‘Daddy’ my daughter screamed. A pattimanram guru was yapping away about life after COVID on one of the most popular Tamil TV channels. A room full of people were in splits. All these people are the who’s who of society.
What made these intellectuals gather during these times? What message are they giving to the society? Are they asking the TV viewers to put down their guard? None of them wore masks.
I wish to explore the madness which has crept into otherwise sane people.
Reasons for such acts:
- Ambiguity vs risk – read the following two statements
i) There is a 50% probability of getting cancer by smoking.
ii) There is a high chance of getting cancer by smoking.
Which statement would make people smoke? The second one . This is because, high is an ambiguous word. 50% is a risk.
The people possibly attended the function because there was an ambiguity attached to it rather than risk.
2. False consensus effect – We are people of a herd mentality. We have a tribal instinct. For thousands of years we have followed the crowds to save our butts. Our brain is not built to recognize the truth. It is built to create a positive impression (sociological view), attract disproportionate amount of resources (economist view) & maximize baby production (anthropologist view). We never question our assumptions.
3. Yudhistra Paradox – A Yaksha killed four out of the five Pandavas for not obeying his command. Finally Yudhister approached the Yaksha. It asked him a series of questions. One of the questions was, ‘What is the most surprising element of human existence?’Yudhister replied, ‘We see people die all around us, but we as individuals continue to remain in the belief that death will never invade us.’
The attendees at the program may have believed in the Yudhister paradox.
COVID is what happens to others, not to me.
4. Omission bias – 9/11 happened because the hijackers were able to enter the cockpit. If an engineer had designed an unbreakable cockpit, 9/11 would never have occurred, but there would be no story to tell.
When the Jamatees congregated, no one bothered. When they became super spreaders, we had a story. Arnab Goswami thrives on it.
What prevented us from stopping it in the first place? Omission bias
We wait for people to shoot themselves in the foot before doing a post-mortem.
Could this be the reason why no one speaks about the TV show but everyone talks about the Jamatees & Satankulam?
5. False Causality – During the 19th Century, man found that when lice disappear from the head, the person gets fever.
Treatment: Put lice on the head of the person having fever.
This is a classic case of false causality.
Fever would give the lice hot feet & make it drop off, not the other way around.
We have some ridiculous rules:
1) A bus should have 30 passengers. If COVID counts more than 30, it will attack the travelers.
2) COVID does not enter hospitals but loves to predate on cinema theaters and educational institutes.
Is this the reason why these people brave themselves into gatherings?
6. Group Think – The people in the TV show are amongst the smartest in our society. Then, why did they make such a ridiculous decision. They have a consensus.
They have been invited to this show & they have accepted. They are smart.
If they can do it, why can’t I. I am also as smart & invincible as them.
I would rather be with them than against them.
The Bay of Pigs attack by Americans against the Cubans was a fiasco. It was the most foolish plan laid out by the best brains.
None of them had the guts to question assumptions. Expressing reservations was worse than death.
They preferred to attend rather than die.
7. Availability bias – Are there more words in English starting with letter K or more words with K as 3rd letter.
Our answer would be; starting with K. The actual answer is K as the 3rd letter.
But our mind can only recall words starting with letter K and hence the response.
My neighbor had a function (available), nothing happened. ‘Hence, if I conduct a function nothing will happen.
So long as these biases exist, COVID will keep winning the war.
We can keep having curfews and lock-downs, but that will be just pull wool over our eyes.
Would you agree or do you beg to differ?
This is Shiv signing off from S & S Family First.
Click on the link to read my earlier blog related to this topic: https://ssfamilyfirst.com/am-i-good-or-bad/