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Surprised politicians are bad politicians


The third corona wave has hit Germany, and some politicians are surprised again. Unfortunately, this is a global trend: Exponential speed and therefore constant unpleasant surprises are becoming part of everyday life.

Enlarge image

CDU chairman Armin Laschet

Photo: Michael Kappeler / picture alliance / dpa

Michael Ryan, who is responsible for pandemic emergencies at the World Health Organization, has to be taken seriously.

For example, he was in Uganda in 2000 and 2001 to fight the Ebola outbreak there.

In March 2020, Ryan said at a WHO press conference on the coronavirus pandemic:

Christian Stocker


Born 1973, is a cognitive psychologist and has been a professor at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW) since autumn 2016.

There he is responsible for the "Digital Communication" course.

Before that, he headed the Netzwelt department at SPIEGEL ONLINE.

“Perfection is the enemy of good when it comes to emergency management.

Speed ​​beats perfection.

And the problem we have right now is that everyone is afraid of making a mistake, of making a mistake.

But the biggest mistake is not doing anything.

(…) The virus will get you if you are not quick. ”

People like Ryan, who have fought a few deadly epidemics in their lives, perceive the world differently than most.

This is because they know the catastrophic effects of viral - and in case of doubt, exponential - spread from their own experience.

Surprised professionals everywhere

Unfortunately, we humans are very bad at understanding exponential growth.

This leads to the fact that we are constantly surprised in situations with exponential developments.

You can see this again and again in many places at the moment, pay attention to it.

Again and again you can experience live how proven specialists experience surprises in their own specialist areas.

Thawing permafrost surprises permafrost experts, climate-related forest decline surprises forest experts.

Mountaineers know this from their own experience

If you have ever hiked in the mountains, you will know this: you first walk up a slowly ascending path, then at some point you climb significantly steeper through the forest, your thighs start to burn, your breath becomes faster.

At some point you turn around - and what do you experience then?

One is surprised that one is already so far up.

This is because you don't build the increasing incline into your mental model of your own position: you are much higher up than you thought.

Armin Laschet, public model

This is roughly how you have to imagine the human mind when dealing with exponential curves: the curve rises relatively flat at first, it almost looks like a constant slope, a straight line.

The steeper ascent further back is hidden under the trees.

This is really how it is: When given tasks that involve exponential growth, many people use linear growth as a mental abbreviation and therefore make gross mistakes.

Acceleration goes badly on our heads, and it has been proven that this also applies to pandemics.

The CDU chairman Armin Laschet is currently providing a kind of public model example for this cognitive limitation.

In March 2021, Laschet said in the state parliament in Düsseldorf: “We had the hope, based on the experience of last year, that when spring comes it will be warmer, the virus infections will decrease and the numbers will decrease, and we are currently experiencing exactly the opposite . "

The legs are already sore

It remained unclear who exactly Laschet meant by "we" because hardly anyone had expected that.

Laschet looked like a mountain hiker who hopes in the middle of the slope that it will definitely go downhill again soon because his legs are already hurting.

Laschet then thought about Easter.

The result was apparently the creation of the word "bridge lockdown".

Laschet now believes that more speed and clear decisions are necessary.

Politics has to get faster, absolutely

When Laschet began to think about it, the number of corona patients in intensive care was 3729. When he had finished thinking, it was 4144. So in four days there were 415 corona intensive care patients, that is over 11 percent.

On Thursday the number was 4474, an increase of almost 20 percent within a week.

The people at the front, in the clinics, have long known what to expect: a catastrophe.

Most Covid intensive care patients will, even if they survive, "be marked for life," as SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach recently put it in a talk show.

German politics is simply too slow for this crisis at the moment.

The brazen old Federal Republic mode, in which the federal and state governments have been swaying for months, does not fit a situation that is determined by acceleration.

It is therefore good if the federal government - even if the Ministry of Health has really not covered itself with fame lately - now has more competencies in fighting pandemics.

Federalism is good for making a dictatorship less likely, but miserable when it has to be done quickly.

Country under, worldwide

Overall, politics must become much faster and more forward-looking, because we are getting more exponential crises.

The global entry of CO₂ into the atmosphere, for example, continues to grow almost exponentially, with a small corona.

We are moving towards tipping points, after which the earth system will be irreversibly changed.

For example, a new study suggests that the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet may be unstoppable.


Christian Stocker

We are the experiment: our world is changing so breathtakingly that we stagger from crisis to crisis.

We have to learn to manage this tremendous acceleration.

Publisher: Karl Blessing Verlag

Number of pages: 384

Publisher: Karl Blessing Verlag

Number of pages: 384

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When that happens, sea levels rise by at least two and a half to three meters.

This will take many decades, but will continue inexorably.

And the relationship between global average temperature and sea level rise is exponential: the hotter, the faster.

According to a 2019 study, up to 630 million people on earth currently live in regions that will then become floodplains.

You will have to invent a bigger word for what happens then than "refugee crisis".

Especially since huge areas could become uninhabitable due to drought disasters, including parts of the USA and southern Europe.

If we don't finally act

There are more such unpleasant surprises lurking in the near future.

We are heading for a time of permanent global emergencies.

As with Covid-19, surprise is actually not inevitable, because

we have known for a long time that this is the case


Michael Ryan again: "The biggest mistake is not doing anything."

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2021-04-11

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