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    December 2021
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      I’ve been a big reader since I was perhaps 7 years old. In grade one I actually had remedial English: I’d been taught both whole word and phonics and it had screwed me up. Once I learned to actually read, I fell in love with it, trudging to the library, taking out the maximum and luxuriating in other worlds and other lives. I always find the strivers, attemp […]
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The best way to understand the epidemic.

It’s not the news. You’ll get information but depending on which channel you’re listening to, you might get the wrong information.

It’s not Fauci interviews, though he is excellent. But he’s a scientist and best understood by other scientists. Science does not have all the answers all at once. The scientific method means there will always be uncertainty and questions that haven’t been answered yet. Scientists are comfortable with ambiguity and the unknowns and known unknowns and unknown unknowns. It’s what we live for. Ordinary everyday people like news anchors and lawyers and artists and furniture makers may not have the time to dedicate to reading papers and finding the signal in the noise. And that’s ok. Fauci is a great resource but you may need to convince yourself before you can anticipate a virus’s next move.

Fortunately, there is way to learn how pandemics, viruses and other pathogens work without ever having to step into a lab. There is a game in app stores called Plague. I played it the first time about 10 years ago and the game is about as close to real like pandemic scenarios as you’re ever going to get.

The set up is this: you create a pathogen, determine the method of transmission, what the symptoms are and where the outbreak started. Then you push start and watch what happens. The game will model the epidemiology on a map and will show you how fast it’s spreading. Now, depending on how you set it up, your disease may be a flash in the pan. It doesn’t get very far before it burns out or is contained. That game could end quickly.

But plague gives you options. It can ask you if you want the pathogen to mutate or adopt a different method of transmission or hop a transportation device. You could have researchers that get close to a cure but then they get on a plane and crash in the Andes. There are all sorts of scenarios that can be thrown at the world. The model adjusts sort of like your trip gps recalculates your route when it detects a slow down ahead.

You can’t help but learn how a pandemic works. You can even model killing off the entire human race but the good news is you really have to Murphy’s law every possible scenario to get humanity to a few roaming bands of migrating groups before they wink out.

We’re nowhere near that with coronavirus.

It’s probably the best use of your gaming time that you will ever use even if you’re not into games. You don’t have to know virology or epidemiology. The game will show you what they’re all about. And after you play it, you will know exactly what Fauci is talking about. It will make a lot more sense and no one will be able to lie to you and get away with it ever again.

The game has been around for a long time. It predated Covid by at least a decade. Highly recommended. Everyone should play it.