The Coronacceleration: A deepening mistrust in experts as we live through the five stages of model grief
This post was also published on LinkedIn Pulse.
A series on the latent trends that have been accelerated by the CoronavirusExperts and scientists use hypotheses and models to define their outlook and predictions, which usually are developed, tested and refined over long periods of time. Models can have profound policy implications far beyond experts changing their opinion from don’t wear masks and then to wear masks. With the Cononavirus, we are seeing an unprecedented acceleration of hypotheses and models changing in near real time, leaving heads spinning.
The initial Coronavirus models overestimated the death rate by underestimating asymptomatic carriers, and also overestimated the hospitalization rate. The moment that it was clear there was a flawed model was when New York said they needed 30,000 more ventilators and the Federal government said they didn’t. Epidemiologists are scientists, and scientists work with models that are constantly refined. The Governor of New York later said he was working with the Federal government’s model, but clearly the Federal government had used the updated IMHE model, which to the IHME’s credit has been constantly tuned with new data.
Many business people also use models, and there are distinct phases that happen when people start to recognize that a model is inaccurate, which I like to call the “Five stages of model grief.”
Stage 1 - Challenge
Stage 2 - Switch
Stage 3 - Boost
Stage 4 - Distract
Stage 5 - Deny
“Tech Twitter” saw the beginning of an exponential growth curve and thought that it would go up forever, just like they hope their apps will grow. In the end, viral exponential curves, whether in appstore or biological form, inevitably turn into an S, the only thing that is debatable is at what point the top of the S flattens out. Elon Musk, always the outlier, is pointing out that Silicon Valley is sanctimonious and then followed up with a chart of how the models in California have shifted even with social distancing included in the models.
As they say, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. On the other side of the Coronavirus, distrust in experts will increase. This will unfortunately not bode well for well researched climate change models.