How Do You Deal With Uncertainty?

Being in an uncertain situation can be extremely frustrating. Is there a way you have learned to deal with uncertainty?

Human beings, generally, feel more in control — and therefore, more comfortable — the more they know about something. In fact, that urge has been behind much of the development of science and technology over the last few hundred years. Wanting to know more, about how the world works and ways to modify it, is something that comes naturally to our species.

While this is true at a societal level, it is also true at an individual level as well. The more information we have, the more in control we feel.

For example, someone who has been diagnosed with a disease will often learn everything they can about it. Even very complicated systems, like the stock market or the political realm, people will study in great detail, trying to gain an edge.

In reality, knowing more does not always confer an advantage. So-called experts do not have a better record predicting the future than anyone else. There are plenty of examples of a basketball novice finishing ahead of a diehard fan in March Madness brackets, for instance.

There are certain times and certain situations that are completely out of your control. In that case, what do you do? Can you learn to embrace the uncertainty? Or instead, are there methods to feel more in control of an inherently uncontrollable scenario?

Related questions: What is unknowable? Why are we fascinated with the unknown? How do we know what we don’t know? Why don’t you know what makes you happy?

 

Arts Or Sciences?

When you learn about something, do you find yourself more drawn to the arts or to the sciences? More creative or more rational?

Share why if you wish.

Arts Or Sciences?

Will The Future Be Better Than The Present?

Occasionally, it seems like progress is presented as inevitable. The present is better than the past, and the future will be better still. But is that actually true? Will our future be better than today?

There is no doubt that we face many problems in the present day that threaten our future. From climate change, to pollution, to overpopulation, to species extinction, and on and on.

And yet, there is still hope that, even if we can’t definitively solve these problems, at least we’ll make a start. Extrapolating the advances in science and technology over the last hundred to two hundred years provides some hope.

Carbon capture may reduce the level of greenhouse gases. At the same time, cold fusion could solve the problem of plenty of cheap, clean energy being generated, enough for the world’s population.

It goes beyond science and technology. Over the last hundred years, there have been few investments more reliable than the stock market. Yes, there have been notable crashes, but the overall trend line is up. Similarly, real estate prices have been good investments historically (at least since real estate has become a thing). Why wouldn’t these areas continue going up in the days ahead?

We are also making consistent progress in other areas. Slavery was legal throughout the world just two hundred years ago. Global poverty is declining (or at least it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic). Why shouldn’t we see a future with fewer human rights violations, and more protection for minorities and those at risk?

But we have seen stretches in history where progress has stagnated or even reversed. Is a future where that comes to pass just as likely?

What do you think? Will our lives continue to improve in the future, or is society about to crash? Or somewhere in between?

Related questions: Is life today better than in the past? What do we owe the future? How do you plan for the future? Past, present, or future? What is the greatest problem facing humanity?

 

Should There Be Another Lockdown?

As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the United States, having another lockdown has been discussed. Is it a good idea?

The argument for

Other countries that are experiencing a second wave of corona virus cases are instituting a second lockdown. The UK, for instance, has instituted a tiered system to try and contain further spread of the disease.

Closing non-essential businesses and instituting stay-at-home orders should slow the spread of the virus. Some communities are asking for help as  the number of new infections is at an all-time high.

The argument against

However, there are significant arguments against extreme measures like a lockdown. Local and national economies are already hurting from earlier efforts to contain the virus. Many businesses have already closed for good, and a record number of people have requested unemployment. Another lockdown would exacerbate economic problems, for both employers and employees.

A stay-at-home order also poses additional risks. Mental health difficulties are surging as well, and many people already struggling with loneliness and depression would face greater struggles. People in abusive situations at home would feel even more at risk as well.

It is not clear that a lockdown is even necessary. After being able to learn about the spread of the virus, relatively simple steps like mask wearing and physical distancing can have a large impact. We now know that the virus is spread primarily through droplets in the breath of those infected. Frequent hand-washing also prevents spread.

Moreover, more is known about treatment. The fatality rate of this second surge in cases is leading to a much lower number of deaths than the early infections in the spring. Increased testing and contact tracing have also been implemented in many communities.

However …

… the number of new cases is rising, including in many communities previously spared. Mandatory mask laws are being enacted in some states. A stay-at-home order — even for a few weeks — might disrupt the spread in many of our communities.

More than 230,000 people are dead, with cases and deaths continuing to rise. It seems something needs to be done.

Should there be another lockdown?

Related questions: COVID-19? Mask or no mask? How do you evaluate risk? What advice would you give your pre-lockdown self? Do you know anyone with COVID-19?

Science Fiction Or Fantasy?

Science fiction and fantasy often get grouped together in bookstores. However, they are quite different, and serve drastically different purposes. Do you like one better than the other?

Share why if you wish.

Science Fiction Or Fantasy?