Saturday, March 21, 2020

Coronaeducation Episode 1: Now For Something Completely Different

["...Destruction leads to a very rough road but it also breeds creation. . ." - The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Californication.

Eventually, Coronaeducation (by Donald Peter Freiday) will find its way to a platform other than The Freiday Bird Blog. For now, if it's birds and nature that are what you need, I'm with you, and so if that's the case, skip down a blog or more or check "Time Machine to the right for some of that. With coronaeducation, it is not my intent to play epidemiologist, scientist, or politician, except when my brand of training and teaching lends itself to that arena. Mainly, this pandemic has set me to thinking, about humans, friends, life, the future . . .]

A lot of people are not scientists, which is fine. We need all kinds of people thinking all kinds of ways.  A lot of scientists have come around to thinking that part of their role is sharing what they know in ways understandable to others, NOT because others are not intelligent, but because others may lack a scientist's training and mindset. I'd love to play the cello or paint birds, but I would need lots of help from someone who knew how to do those things to have a chance at it. When I teach about birds or anything else, I try to think about what the student knows, how they think, that they may know or think differently.

So how might a scientist approach talking about a pandemic? Well, you could throw out a fancypants graph like this:

...and say, it's not like the red one, it's like the blue or green one. Three weeks ago, I saw a graph of Covid-19 cases outside of China, and , well, it looked like the green one. Now look at cases as of March 22, 2020:

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Or, maybe try this: coronavirus is like a secret you have, and you tell two friends, and then they each tell two friends, and so on. Everybody's heard this bit and I think understands it. And then maybe you could say, "What if your two friends each tell 10 friends, and then they each tell 10 friends, what's that going to look like?" It's going to look like everyone in America, indeed the world, is going to know your secret. So, don't tell anybody anything you don't want the world to know, nor give anybody a disease you don't want the world to get...

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