Coronavirus: The Real Risks and Human Biases Behind the Panic

Note: This was originally written for my weekly newsletter. You can sign up for it here. 

Welcome to a special coronavirus edition of MFM, the only weekly newsletter that refuses to cancel its flights and believes eating fruits and vegetables is more useful than wearing a face mask. Each week, this newsletter breaks down three ideas that usually revolve around social psychology, cognitive biases, and some light philosophy.

This week, I’d like to use coronavirus as a case study to talk about the difference between systemic risk and individual risk, why some people are way more worried about this than others, and what sorts of cognitive biases are influencing us all.

So get your hand sanitizer ready. This is going to be a long one.

(Note: If you enjoy these newsletters, even when they aren’t about coronavirus, please consider forwarding this email to a friend and suggesting they sign up here. It’s free. And almost as useful as a hospital bed… almost.)

Table of Contents

The Real Reason to Stay Home
A few weeks ago, when I wrote …